NEW HAVEN, Conn. — April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Distracted driving is the most common cause of motor vehicle accidents in the country. Thousands of people pass away each year in these accidents which are all preventable.
The all-too-common occurrence can see just about anywhere. People looking at their phones while walking, biking, or even driving. It’s those moments behind the wheel that takes your eyes off the road that prove costly.
"Being distracted on roadways is a major problem and there is no age group. It’s common for everyone," said Lt. Stephen Torquati, Deputy Patrol Commander of the New Haven Police.
In the city of New haven, distracted driving accounted for just under 5000 accidents in 2020. Of those, 19 were fatal.
"The ones that hit the hardest are where we have fatalities," said Chief of Police Renee Dominguez. "Whether it’s a pedestrian, a bicyclist, a motorcyclist, or another operator of a motor vehicle."
A grant through the nationwide distracted driving enforcement program Connect2Disscount is allowing New Haven Police to step up enforcement on some of their more dangerous streets.
"On Howard Avenue, Foxon Boulevard, Grand Avenue, Whaley Avenue as well as other major roadways in every district," said Lt. Torquati.
Along with increased enforcement comes programs to increase pedestrian safety. Last year 13 pedestrians were struck and killed in the city, 11 of those were by distracted drivers.
One of those projects includes a proposal that would sell 381 sq ft of land at the corner of Ella T Grasso Blvd and Route 1 to the state. The $1,500 sale would allow the DOT to add additional safety features including signal crosswalks. Last year four people were killed on Ella Grosso Blvd and another on Thursday morning.
"We have to be vigilant. We must be monitoring our family. Reminding ourselves that you could be making a mistake that could cost somebody their life," said Mayor Justin Elicker.
Distracted driving isn’t just your phone. It’s doing anything that takes your eyes off the road. If you are caught distracted driving, you face a minimum of $150 fine.
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