AP NEWS

Stamford cops give out dozens of distracted driving tickets

April 3, 2019

STAMFORD—City traffic officers began National Distracted Driving Awareness Month by writing more than a dozen tickets for drivers using their hand held phones while driving on Stamford’s East Side on Tuesday.

Traffic Unit Supervisor Sgt. Jeffrey Booth said on top of the 13 cell phone tickets written yesterday afternoon just north of East Main, 27 tickets were written for distracted driving and three other drivers were cited for not having a license.

Five police officers were hired for the distracted driving shift by a state grant and more officers will be out today.

Stamford police are partnering with the state Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from April 2 to April 30 for the national U Drive, U Text, U Pay, high-visibility enforcement effort.

The goal of the campaign is to step up enforcement efforts to catch distracted drivers and enforce distracted driving laws, Booth said.

“It seems that every day, you can look out of your car’s window and see a driver using their cell phone,” said Stamford police Assistant Chief Thomas Wuennemann. “It is painfully obvious to law enforcement when you are driving distracted. If you text and drive, you will pay.”

Violating Connecticut’s distracted-driving laws can be costly. Drivers who are ticketed are fined $150 for the first offense, $300 for the second offense, and $500 for the third and subsequent offenses.

“People know texting and driving is dangerous and illegal, but many do it anyway, putting others at risk,” said Joseph Giulietti, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Transportation. “Beginning April 2, you will see increased law enforcement efforts as officers will be stopping and ticketing anyone who is caught texting and driving.”

Over the past decade, distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes on our nation’s roads. According to NHTSA, between 2012-2017, nearly 20,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver. In fact, there were 3,166 people killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2017. While this represents a 9 percent decrease in distracted driving fatalities from 2016 to 2017, there is clearly more work to be done, Booth said.

jnickerson@stamfordadvocate.com