FEDERAL GRANT MAY MAKE CONNECTICUT ROADS SAFER
Connecticut law enforcement agencies are the fortunate recipients of federal funds to help them apprehend drivers who flout anti-texting laws. The state of Connecticut is receiving $275,000 from the United States Department of Transportation for a pilot program geared at increasing the ability of police officers to spot drivers who are texting while driving.
Why laws against texting matter
According to the DOT, texting is a dangerous distraction implicated in numerous car accidents. The risk of having an accident is compounded 23 times when a driver is texting compared to the risk without distraction.
In 2010, distracted driving was responsible for over 3,000 deaths on America’s roads and highways. The DOT noted that research has found drivers are four times more likely to get into an injury-producing accident when they are using handheld devices, such as cell phones.
Texting compromises the safety of others in another way as well. First responders in Connecticut are increasingly finding that distracted drivers fail to yield to emergency vehicles, obstructing their progress and wasting valuable response time. The drivers are supposed to pull over, but many preoccupied motorists seem not to notice the emergency vehicle’s flashing lights and siren.
Why federal funding is being provided
Laws against texting while driving exist in 39 states, and 10 states have laws against handheld cell phone use while driving. An eye-opening experiment conducted partly in Hartford, Connecticut showed that catching drivers texting is more difficult than catching drivers talking on a handheld cell phone. Tickets issued to drivers for using a handheld device were overwhelmingly issued for talking on a cell phone rather than for texting.
The DOT hopes to improve the ability of law enforcement officers to detect drivers who are illegally sending and receiving text messages. The pilot program will place spotters on highway overpasses; from those vantage points, it is hoped that the spotters will be able to see drivers texting.
Along with the spotters, the funding will pay for training police officers to better identify texters on Connecticut roads and will fund an information campaign to educate motorists about the hazards of driving while texting.
The results of the program in Connecticut will be measured as part of a nationwide effort to combat distracted driving.
Help for victims
The new program could develop valuable tools in the fight to make Connecticut residents safer. For those who are harmed due to another person’s negligence behind the wheel, it is possible to seek compensation for injuries received. Even victims who do not have health insurance can pursue a claim for medical expenses in Connecticut. If a distracted driver caused the victims’ injuries, it may be possible to collect two to three times the usual amount in damages. Consulting with a Connecticut personal injury attorney can be a smart first step toward obtaining justice.