Your chances of getting a ticket for using a cell phone while driving greatly increased this week because local police and the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office launched another “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign.
The crackdown started Aug. 2 and continues until Aug. 16.
Using a cell phone while driving is illegal and dangerous — especially for the nation’s cell-phone addicted youngest motorists.
Texas recently enacted a law requiring young drivers to take a course on distracted driving as part of the licensing process.
The first leg of the Connecticut cell phone crackdown took place in April. Almost 12,000 tickets were issued in Connecticut.
More than 50 police departments are participating in this month’s crackdown.
That means a Serpico-looking plain clothes cop could spot you from a sidewalk as you chat away on your cell phone while driving. The cop will radio ahead to a check point you don’t see, and — you’ll be the proud new owner of a $150 ticket for your first offense.
The Valley Indy observed Derby police during a 2015 “U. Pay” campaign on Derby Avenue. There were so many motorists getting pulled over for using their cell phones police could not keep up.
Derby police in 2016 gave out 224 tickets during the campaign.
Keep in mind you can’t use your phone while stopped in traffic or at a red light. Pull over if you want to check texts.
The campaign is ultimately funded by the federal government. Connecticut has received about $6.8 million during the last three years for the enforcement effort.
That means local police are conducting the crackdown with a bulked up force, not taking officers away from normal duties to concentrate on cell phoning motorists.
A 2014 research report from the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine cites the need for a three-pronged approach when it comes to combating distracted driving — enactment of laws, education of the public, and enforcement by police.
The cell phone crackdowns — which are heavily promoted by police and state agencies before, during and after the events — are a combination of education and enforcement, researchers say.
Click here to read a 2014 column by a police officer explaining why he had used a cell phone while driving.