Glastonbury drivers warned about driving distracted

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Fri., May. 10, 2013
Agent James Kennedy of the Glastonbury Police Department explains some of the current things people need to watch out for when driving, at the Riverfront Community Center on May 9. Photo by Steve Smith.
Agent James Kennedy of the Glastonbury Police Department explains some of the current things people need to watch out for when driving, at the Riverfront Community Center on May 9. Photo by Steve Smith.

Glastonbury, as well as all of Connecticut, is seeing a big problem with distracted drivers, and penalties increase for repeat offenders. Agent James Kennedy of the Glastonbury Police Department explained there are some new things to watch out for when driving on roads in Connecticut, when he spoke at the Riverfront Community Center on May 9.

“The biggest issue we have today in our society is distracted driving,” he said. That is the main reason why young people have restrictions on passengers in the car for the first year of driving. “Statistically, the fewer people you have in the car, the fewer accidents you will be in,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said that recently, while off-duty, he was driving from East Glastonbury into the center of town and witnessed a woman filing papers, brushing her hair and making calls while behind the wheel. “I was amazed,” he said. “The car was drifting over the yellow line and over the white line. There are a lot of things that are going on with people, and we're out there just innocently driving. You never know when someone is going to bump into you [or worse].”

Smart phones, of course, are the biggest culprit. “It's not just talking on the cell phone, it's text messaging,” he said. “We're having a lot of problems with people doing this while driving.”

A person driving at 35 mph covers more than 51 feet per second. At 65 mph, it's close to 100 feet. “You can see how in that short amount of time with your eyes off the road, you're traveling a good distance, and that can be the difference between life and death,” he said.

According to statistics from the Department of Transportation, 6,000 people are killed and 500,000 were injured in 2012 in distracted driving incidents. That is up from approximately 3,000 and 400,000 respectively, in 2010.

As if the potential for a life- or limb-threatening incident isn't enough of a deterrent, Connecticut drivers should be aware that a ticket for distracted driving will cost them $125. A second offense would be $250, and a third would cause one to shell out $400.

There have also been issues with crosswalks, and people seemingly not sure when they need to stop for pedestrians. “The general rule is, if you are coming up to a crosswalk and the person has stepped off the curb and into the street, that's when you need to stop and let them cross,” Kennedy said, adding that there is a $181 infraction for failing to obey that rule.

Older people, Kennedy said, need to be aware of their own diminishing abilities. “We need to alter the way we do things as we get older,” he said. “Maybe not taking the major highways, instead taking the back roads," he suggested. "Maybe it's driving during the non-busy hours in the middle of the day.”

He also encouraged people to practice things like parallel parking or backing into a space, so that it's easier to do when the time comes.

Kennedy is a 14-year veteran of the Glastonbury Police Department, currently assigned to the Youth Division.


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