NEWINGTON — The following notice was sent to the Town Times by the Watertown Police Department.

Texting and driving is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving. Beginning October 1, it is about to get more expensive.

Starting October 1, the fines for driving while distracted are: $200 for the first violation (was previously $150); $375 for a second violation (was previously $300); For a third or subsequent violation, offenders are fined $625 (was formerly $500).

“Throughout October, there will be a greater effort to cut down on distracted driving,” said Commissioner Joseph Giulietti of the Connecticut Department of Transportation. “State and local police will be increasing enforcement of the distracted driving law - which now carries a much heftier fine for offenders.”

Over the past decade, distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes on our nation’s roads. 

At any given moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using or manipulating electronic devices while driving – a number that has held steady for more than a decade. In Connecticut in 2020, there were nearly 5,000 crashes attributed to distracted driving.

“Every time you pick up your phone while driving you are putting your life and the lives of others in danger,” added Comm. Giulietti. “Drivers should focus on the most important task: hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.”

Connecticut law prohibits the use of any hand-held mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers who are 16 or 17 years of age are prohibited from using a cell phone or mobile device at any time, even with a hands-free accessory.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation urges you to put your phone down when you get behind the wheel. If you need to text, pull over and park your vehicle in a safe place first. 

Those seeking more information may visit www.distraction.gov.

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