East Hartford police officers and the Department of Transportation teamed up to bust distracted drivers.Eyewitness News got an exclusive inside look at the operation.
A recent grant from the DOT allows the East Hartford Police Department to spend more time recently cracking down on drivers, who have been using their cell phones behind the wheel. The program is called U Drive, U Text, U Pay.
Over his 20 years with the East Hartford Police Department, Officer Kwanza Clayton said he has put away plenty of hardened criminals, but right now, he's just as passionate about dealing with a different sort of enemy.
"When you passed by you had your phone up to your right ear,” Clayton said during a traffic stop.
Eyewitness News rode along with Clayton recently. Police said over last year, the program saw a slight decrease in the number of people, who were using their cell phones while operating a car.
But, Clayton said distracted driving is still an epidemic and it was clear within a few minutes into the operation that the problem is everywhere. He added the really depressing part is he doesn't have to look to find drivers talking on the phone and even texting behind the wheel.
"They'll literally drive up to me at a red light or something. And they'll either have their head down or the phone up to their face and talking away,” Clayton said. “It's sad."
Every time officer Clayton hands out a ticket, it carries a $150 fine.
Clayton said he doesn't judge the people he pulls over and believes the distracted driving epidemic is a reflection on all of modern society. He hopes we can end it through outreach and education, but if that does not happen.
"We'll find them...and if they're on their phone they'll get the ticket,” Clayton said
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