The Milford Police Department and Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office, along with state and other local law enforcement, have announced that the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign launched Oct. 1.

Through this initiative, officers will be cracking down on motorists who text, talk, or distract themselves with a hand-held mobile phone while driving. This high-visibility enforcement effort is a partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and will run through Oct. 15.

Over the past decade, distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes on the nation’s roads. According to NHTSA, between 2012-2017, nearly 20,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver. From 2018-2019, there was a 50 percent increase in fatal distracted driving crashes.

Since 2015, more than 38,000 crashes in Connecticut have involved a distraction. Pedestrians and cyclists represent less than 0.5 percent of those involved in distracted driving crashes, but they account for 27 percent of the resulting deaths.

“People know texting and driving is dangerous and illegal, but many do it anyway, putting others at risk,” said Joseph Giulietti, commissioner, Connecticut Department of Transportation. “In Connecticut in 2019, more than 6,600 crashes were attributed to distracted driving.”

More than 40 law enforcement agencies, both state and local police, are participating in the campaign.

“More and more motorists are back on the roads, returning to work and school,” added Giulietti. “If law enforcement sees you texting and driving, they will stop and ticket you.”

Violating Connecticut’s distracted-driving laws can be costly. Drivers who are ticketed are fined $150 for the first offense, $300 for the second offense, and $500 for the third and subsequent offenses.

For more information, visit www.distraction.gov.