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Tougher distracted driving penalties proposed for Connecticut

One bill would double current fines for distracted driving in the state

Connecticut lawmakers are considering a number of bills that would increase the penalties for texting and driving, according to the Hartford Courant. One bill would substantially increase the fines for texting while driving while another bill would treat drivers who text similarly to drunk drivers. Although Connecticut currently has some of the toughest laws against distracted driving, experts note that current penalties have failed to prevent enough car accidents caused by distracted drivers.

Fines could double

One state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would double the current fines for texting while driving. Under the current law, texting and driving fines are $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense, and $500 for each offense afterwards. The lawmaker notes that those current fines appear to be too low for the worst offenders and says he was moved to introduce the proposal after hearing from one of his constituents whose son was killed in an accident caused by texting while driving.

A second bill has also been proposed that would give police increased tools for punishing distracted drivers. That bill would treat distracted drivers similarly to drunken drivers, who currently face prison time, license suspensions, and fines of about $8,000. The lawmaker behind that bill notes that fines alone are insufficient for stopping distracted drivers and that only a variety of punishments will address the danger more adequately.

Over 3,300 killed

The need to crack down on distracted driving has been highlighted by numerous studies that have found cellphone use while behind the wheel to be extremely dangerous. A federal study, for example, found that when drivers read a text message they take their eyes off of the road for 4.6 seconds, which, when traveling at 55 mph, is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field. Furthermore, people who text and drive are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident compared to drivers who don’t text, according to the Middletown Press.

The toll in terms of human lives is, however, the greatest indicator of the enormity of the problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that in 2012 3,328 people died in distracted driving crashes, which was only a slight decrease from the 3,360 distracted driving crashes the year before. Furthermore, while fatalities were down in 2012, injuries caused by distracted driving were up by nine percent.

Motor vehicle accidents

When a motor vehicle accident happens, especially if it may have been caused by another motorist’s negligence or poor driving, it is important to reach out to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The consequences of an accident may not only be physically and emotionally painful, but they can take a financial toll as well, especially when medical expenses and lost income are taken into account. An experienced attorney can assist victims of such accidents during the recovery process and help them understand what options are open to them following a crash.