standing Stonington Police Department

STONINGTON — Law enforcement agencies throughout Connecticut, including the Stonington police, will conduct a "U Drive, U Text, U Pay" campaign from Aug. 1 through Aug. 15 in an effort to deter distracted driving.

"There are no excuses. There is no hand-held phone use while driving," said Sgt. Keith Beebe, the Stonington department's traffic safety supervisor. "It's the law and it's enforced."

The campaign, which runs twice a year, is funded through a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and is administered to local departments through the state Department of Transportation's Highway Safety Office. During the first wave of added patrols, April 2 to 30, Stonington police issued 32 tickets to motorists who were found to be using a cellphone while driving.

According to NHTSA, Connecticut had 304 traffic fatalities in 2016, a six-year high. The number dropped to 278 in 2017, but rose again in 2018 to 290 deaths in 2018. More data is available at cdan.nhtsa.gov/stsi.htm#.

Connecticut law considers distracted driving to include "any activity not related to the actual operation of a motor vehicle that interferes with its safe operation on a highway.”

The fines are $150 penalty for first offense, $300 for second offense, and a $500 penalty for a third or subsequent offense. “As you pick up your phone while driving, remember how frustrated you get when you see others doing it," Beebe said in a news release. "Do your part to keep the roads safe.”

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