A warning on distracted driving

This column was written in an effort to remind the community of the dangers of distracted driving. In 2012, 3,328 people were killed and an additional 421,000 people were injured in car accidents because of a distracted driver.

Distracted driving involves any activity that takes your attention away from the primary responsibility of safe driving.

Many forms of distracted driving include:

  • Texting
  • Cell phone usage
  • Eating and drinking
  • Reading
  • Video watching
  • Talking with passengers

In the case of texting, it is more distracting because the activity requires visual, manual and cognitive attention, all of which draw your attention from driving. Your eyes are off the road an average of five seconds while texting. At a speed of 55 mph, a vehicle will travel the length of a football field, 100 yards, while the driver is blind to traffic.

Ten percent of all drivers under the age of 20 that were involved in a fatal accident were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group represents the largest proportion of distracted drivers.

Drivers in their 20s make up 27% of all distracted drivers in fatal car accidents.

Any public safety issue involves expected compliance through education about the dangers of the activity. Police also conduct enforcement, detecting and citing those who violate the law.

In Wilton, we conduct selective enforcement in town to stop those who continue to engage in distracted driving. Many times residents call us and ask for additional traffic enforcement on their roads to slow cars down, creating a safer environment.

In 2013, 31 individual residents called the police department and asked for increased traffic control on their roads and in 2012, 30 individual complaints were filed. Most recently, the Wilton Police Department has teamed up with several area departments in a regional effort to combat distracted driving and other traffic violations. We have also installed “No Texting” signs in town reminding people not to text.

Wilton has a very high volume of traffic consistent throughout town on a daily basis. Approximately 32,300 vehicles pass on Route 7 at one location daily.

Additionally, Wilton is the only community in the area that has an increase in daytime population, up 15.15%. This is not the case in most Fairfield County communities, who actually enjoy a significant reduction.

We continue to remain vigilant in our efforts to provide a safe environment for residents to live in. I ask each of you to be cognizant of your surroundings while driving, so that we may all enjoy a safer summer on Wilton roads.