Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) Highway Safety Office urged people to pay attention while driving. 

From October 15 to October 31, they have enforced statewide distracted driving laws. The goal was to increase police presence on the roads and prevent future accidents. 

“A driver’s focus should be on the road, not their phone,” Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti said. “Starting October 15, the community will see an increased and highly-visible law enforcement presence on our roadways with officers stopping and ticketing anyone driving distracted. If you have a phone in your hand, expect to be holding a ticket in the other.”

Within the last ten years, distracted driving has become a leading cause of car crashes across the nation. In the U.S., about 660,000 drivers actively use their phones while driving. In Connecticut alone, distracted driving has caused 5,400 crashes in 2021. 

According to Connecticut law, drivers cannot hold a phone while they are behind the wheel. Additionally, 16 and 17-year-old drivers are not allowed to use any devices while driving, even if they’re hands-free. Violators of this law can be charged $200 in ticket fines for the first offense and up to $625 for the third and subsequent offenses. 

The CTDOT recommends finding a safe area to pull over if drivers must use their phones. 

“No text message is so critical that it’s worth risking lives,” Giulietti said. 

For more information on the laws, visit nhtsa.gov.