In 2020, Connecticut saw a rise in fatal car accidents, although there were less drivers on the road. According to the UConn Crash Data Repository, last year, there were 291 traffic deaths statewide compared to 2019 with only 242. The NHTSA’s analysis indicated that the main factors that increased the fatality rate were impaired driving, speeding, and failure to wear a seat belt.
The rise in traffic fatalities is a major concern for not only state officials, but parents of teenage children. The spokeswoman for AAA in Greater Hartford, says that ten people died in crashes involving teen drivers in Connecticut during summer 2020, which was twice the average. This year, the potential is there for more fatal car accidents, as many young drivers, who had put off getting their licenses because of pandemic related closures, will get behind the wheel.
To reduce traffic related accidents and fatalities Connecticut has set new laws in place to keep pedestrians, bicyclists, and passengers safe from reckless or distracted drivers. Here are the most recent laws passed by the state of Connecticut to improve safe driving:
All passengers will now be required to wear a seatbelt in the car no matter where they are positioned in the car. The new law is subject to secondary enforcement, meaning drivers can’t be pulled over just because there is an unbelted adult in the back seat. However, law enforcement can issue a fine for the unbelted passenger if the driver is pulled over for a primary offense, such as speeding. The fine is $50 if the driver is 18 or older and $75 if the driver is under 18.
Under the new law, a driver must slow or stop as necessary if the pedestrian (1) is within any portion of the crosswalk; (2) steps to the curb at a crosswalk’s entrance and indicates intent to cross by raising a hand or arm to oncoming traffic; or (3) indicates intent to cross by moving any body part or extension of a body part into the crosswalk entrance, including a wheelchair, cane, walking stick, crutch, bicycle, electric bicycle, stroller, carriage, cart, or leashed or harnessed dog. As under existing law, drivers who fail to yield at a crosswalk when required are subject to a $500 fine.
The act of dooring will be illegal. This new law prohibits a person from causing physical contact between a vehicle door and moving traffic by (1) opening the door, if the moving traffic is traveling at a reasonable speed with due regard for the safety of people and property, or (2) leaving it open longer than needed to load or unload passengers.
The fines for distracted driving have now increased:
· For first violation, offenders are fined $200 (was previously $150)
· For a second violation, offenders are fined $375 (was previously $300)
· For a third or subsequent violation, offenders are fined $625 (was formerly $500)
State officials hope that passing these new laws will create safer roadways in Connecticut, so they can move toward achieving their goal of Vision Zero. This year the Connecticut General Assembly established the state’s Vision Zero Council as part of a transportation safety bill. The primary mission of the council is to eliminate transportation-related fatalities and severe injuries involving pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, motorists, and passengers.
Besides for passing new laws Connecticut is also looking to reduce traffic related accidents through their road infrastructure projects. Improved highways, bridges and roadways will not only make the roads safer, but it can also reduce traffic congestion.
If you or a loved one was in a serious car accident due to the actions of a distracted or negligent driver, contact the Reinken Law Firm. We have helped countless victims receive compensation for their pain and suffering. It is irresponsible for a driver to text or call, adjust the radio, or be intoxicated while operating a vehicle because it puts the lives of pedestrians, other drivers and passengers in danger. These individuals need to be held accountable for their actions and we are here to help. Call (203) 541-0090 or fill out or contact form for a free consultation.