bill forbidding texting while driving is headed for Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s signature.

The measure also would crack down on talking on a cell phone while driving without using a hand-free device. It would end the policy of giving first-time violators a waiver if they buy a hands-free device, and instead imposes a $100 fine. It also increases fines for subsequent violations.

Justifying the hikes, proponents say the law has been around for five years and people should know better than to use their phones behind the wheel.

The legislature’s budget office said in 2008, 14,500 drivers received a warning for using their phone while driving and 22,500 received a fine.

Rell introduced a similar bill this session, saying 19 states prohibit text messaging and six states prohibit using hand-held cell phones while driving. AAA supports laws banning drivers from texting, but a recent study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found no reduction in crashes in states with laws that ban hand-held cell phone use.

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Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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