The Board of Selectman unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday, Sept. 4, to make Sept. 19 "Don't Text and Drive Day" in New Canaan.
Texting while driving, and distracted driving more generally, has sharply risen in importance as an issue in recent years, as cellphone use and text messaging have increased.
According to a report by the Pew Internet and Life Project, instances of texting while driving increased by 50 percent in 2010.
With the resolution, which was written by phone service company AT&T as part of its campaign against texting while driving, the town of New Canaan noted that the use of text messaging has increased tenfold in the last three years, and that those who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in some type of safety critical event as compared to those drivers who don't text while they drive, resolving that the Board of Selectmen pledge not to text and drive and encourage others to do the same.
Sept. 19 is AT&T's "No Text on Board" pledge day, when people from all over the country will pledge not to engage in text messaging while driving.
Many municipalities across the country have adopted resolutions similar to the one passed by the BOS as part of awareness for the day.
AT&T has also created several commercials and public service announcements showing the dangers and consequences of texting while driving, including messages from the families of teens who have been injured or killed in accidents cause by distracted driving.
Such a message might especially hit home in New Canaan, where a distracted-driving incident caused the death of a jogger in March.
New Canaan Police Sgt. Carol Ogrinc, the head of the department's youth office, supported the BOS' "Don't Text and Drive Day" resolution.
"I'm totally on board with that," she said in an interview. "It needs to be extended out to every day. If you can do it one day, you can do it every day."
Texting while driving is against the law in the state of Connecticut, one of 10 states in the nation that has banned the use of handheld electronic devices while driving.
As part of an effort to raise awareness and change habits, the Police Department has given presentations on the issue at New Canaan High School.
Ogrinc notes in her presentation that the penalty for distracted driving is a $125 fine the first time, $250 the second and $400 for a third infraction.
For drivers under the age of 18, those fines include license suspensions.
Ogrinc noted that police are enforcing these rules.
From 2008 to 2011, police made 2,236 stops for cellphone violations.
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