West Hartford Police Begin First Phase of 2018 Campaign Against Distracted Driving

Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The first phase of the West Hartford Police Department’s ‘U Drive. U Text. U Pay’ 2018 distracted driving high visibility enforcement campaign begins April 2, 2018.

By Ronni Newton

West Hartford Police put additional patrols on duty beginning April 2, 2018, specifically tasked with enforcing the state’s distracted driving laws that prohibit using handheld cellular phones or other mobile electronic devices while driving.

West Hartford’s efforts are part of the Connecticut Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office’s “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” campaign, with funding for the additional patrols to target distracted driving enforcement made possible through a grant provided by the Federal Highway Safety Administration.

The first phase of the campaign runs through April 30, 2018, and the second phase will take place from Aug. 1-15, 2018.

According to Capt. Jeff Rose, who heads the West Hartford Police Department’s Traffic Division, there will be up to eight extra officers per day as part of the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” detail. They will use marked and unmarked vehicles.

Enforcement is concentrated on main roads such as Park Road, New Britain Avenue, Farmington Avenue, North Main Street, and Albany Avenue – as well as in school and construction zones and other neighborhoods throughout town.

Rose said that during the 2017 campaign more than 1,000 motor vehicle infractions were issued for distracted driving violations.

Fines in Connecticut for violations begin at $150 for a first offense, increase to $300 for a second offense, and are $500 for subsequent violations. Fines double in a construction, utility, traffic, or fire safety zones.

“Our goal is to save lives by changing people’s behavior and deterring this dangerous habit,” said Off. Nick Sachetti of the West Hartford Police Traffic Division in a news release about the campaign.

Rose said that the campaign is an effective deterrent. “This enforcement campaign has a noticeable impact on distracted driving. We can see the use of handheld cellphones decrease throughout the month.”

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