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Does Connecticut need stricter distracted driving laws?

The world has become increasingly interconnected through the use of cellphones, social media sites and broader access to the Internet. Unfortunately, this has also led to an increased danger of accidents on the roads, as more drivers are distracted by their mobile devices. According to many experts, this is just another example of the law's failure to keep up with modern technologies.

According to some researchers, the use of a handheld cellphone-whether talking, texting or browsing the internet on the Web or updating a Facebook page-is more dangerous that drinking and driving. Despite the large body of evidence, proving that the use of cellphones is dangerous, most states, including Connecticut, are much harsher on alcohol-related accidents that in those involving distracted driving. Most drivers who are caught using a cellphone are simply given a fine and a suspended sentence if they are involved in a fatal accident.

It has been suggested that the laws for distracted drivers should be the same as for those who cause accidents while drinking and driving. Some see the disparate treatment as a double standard in the law. According to research, drivers are eight times more likely to get into an accident while distracted by a cellphone than those who are not distracted. Drivers who use alcohol are only four times more likely to cause an accident.

Prosecutors in some states are starting to get more aggressive seeking harsh penalties for distracted drivers. This year, Massachusetts convicted a teenager for felony vehicular homicide for an accident he caused while texting and driving.

What do you think? Should Connecticut pursue harsher penalties for individuals who cause accidents by distracted driving? Would harsher penalties prevent accidents that cause injury and wrongful death?

Source: Connecticut Post, "Some say state should tighten distracted driving laws," Tom Cleary, July 1, 2012.

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