Police across state kick off anti-distracted driving campaign

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DARIEN -

Police departments across Connecticut are working to combat distracted driving with their annual “U Drive U Text U Pay” campaign.

Wednesday kicks off the second wave of the annual campaign.

The first was completed in April.

Darien Detective James Palmieri says, “What we hope happens is that they, they sort of realize, they see us out there stepping it up, but they also in the back of their minds will realize that not just during this two or three-week period but all throughout the year we're out there, we’re issuing tickets for these kinds of things"

Over 50 departments across the state will put extra officers on the road thanks to a federal grant.

First time offenders will be ticketed $150, while repeat offenders could pay up to $500 or even $1,000 if they violate the law in a work zone.

Hands-free cellphone use is legal in Connecticut for drivers 18 and older, while school bus drivers are not allowed to use hands-free devices except in an emergency.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says distracted driving claims the lives of more than 3,400 people each year.

The campaign begins Wednesday morning and will run through August 15.

The Department of Transportation says 20,000 citations were issued during last year’s campaign.

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