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Stricter Connecticut Cell Phone Laws Coming Soon


distracted driving constructionThis isn't the first time we've talked about behind the wheel cell phone use here on the CRA Blog, and it probably won't be the last.  For our out of state readers, you can probably skip this one since it only covers Connecticut cell phone law legislation. 

We know that behind the wheel cell phone use without the use of hands-free device has been a ticketable offense in CT since 2005 when Gov. Rell signed the legislation that made CT one of the first states with this type of law on the books.  Up until 2010, the law has been haphazardly enforced (IMO) and fines of $100 haven't been a strong enough deterrent to curb usage. 

Here is what the current legislation/fines look like:

Current prohibitions:

  • Texting outlawed for all drivers. Fines $100, then $150 and $200.
  • Adult drivers (18 and older) must use hands-free devices while talking on cell phones or using a “mobile electronic device.” Fines for handheld cell phone use $100/$150/$200.
  • Minors are prohibited from using wireless phones or other mobile electronic device while driving — with or without hands-free devices. $100 fine.
  • School bus operators prohibited from using cell phones while driving. $100 fine.
  • Use of video game players and DVD players banned for drivers.

New legislation for 2011 that has already passed the Joint Committee on Judiciary:

HB 6366: Would require law officers writing a summons under electronic distracted driving laws to seize and suspend driver’s license for 24-hour period, if there is a previous conviction. Increases penalties for second and subsequent violations to up to $500 plus possibility of three months’ imprisonment. First offense fines remain at $100. Latest legislative action: Approved by the Joint Committee on Judiciary in a 23-20 vote on April 14. (Judiciary Committee)

HB 6366 was approved, narrowly, by the Judiciary Committee on April 14. The panel decided to reword the bill so that police “may” impound repeat offenders’ drivers licenses — instead of “shall.” Rep. John W. Hetherington said the legislation that he proposed included the seizures so that, “If you violate the law, you take some risk and that might include a severe sanction.” Hetherington, R-New Canaan, is the ranking member of the committee.

Reps. William Tong and John Hetherington, who both represent New Canaan, are co-sponsors of each other’s distracted driving bills (above).

Law enforcement officers in Hartford conducted their final sweep of cell phone and texting violators, a crackdown that ran through March 4. The federal Department of Transportation funded the pilot campaign, which began in spring 2010 in Hartford and Syracuse, N.Y. In the “Phone in one hand. Ticket in the other” campaign’s three previous sweeps, 7,200 tickets were handed out in Hartford.

The town of New Canaan is fed up with distracted drivers. Local officials and police are studying the possibility of confiscating handheld cell phones from violators of the state law. Police stopped more than 150 motorists for talking on their cell phones between June and September 2010, as part of a local campaign against distracted drivers

If you can afford to own a car and a cell phone, you can probably afford a $100 citation.  However, the loss of license for 24 hours in conjunction with a $500 fine for the 2nd infraction and every subsequent one, is the type of penalty that might finally get some people to buy a bluetooth.


Oh ya, back to the whole insurance and risk management thing.  A $100 fine is one thing, having one of your employees whose primary job responsibility is driving a vehicle lose their license for 24 hours is a horse of another color.  In this economy, the last thing a contractor needs is for the driver of a "heavy" to get pulled over in the 24 hours their license was suspended.  Not the kind of public relations issue anyone wants to deal with. Not to mention what the repercussions for a CDL holder might be.  Need help putting together a cellphone policy for your construction company?  Give us a call at 800-252-9864.


Here's a few other posts we've written about CT driving laws

New Move Over Law in CT

Distracted Driving

Hang Up & Drive



Back to the Basics: Contractors Business Automobile


Dump Truck Accident resized 600Day 2 of “Back to the Basics” is going to cover Business Automobile coverage.  Some of this could be old hat for the readers that have a large fleet and have been buying this coverage forever, but for our younger contractors and those acquiring their first or second company vehicle might glean some knowledge.


What is it?

Much like the car insurance you purchase, this coverage covers you for bodily injury, property damage, theft, and other incidental things that the combination of comprehensive and collision covers. It also indemnifies(makes you whole again) if you are hit or injured by an uninsured driver.

Collision covers losses caused by an accidental collision or overturn with another object or vehicle.

Comprehensive covers everything that happens to a vehicle that isn’t a collision or overturn.  Theft of contents in the car or a broken windshield from a rock would be examples of what comprehensive covers.


Why should my construction company carry it?

I worry that many contractors don’t take business auto coverage serious enough.  If you have any heavy vehicles on the road, there is potential to exhaust your limits and finally need to use your umbrella in auto coverage more than other coverage lines (with exceptions.)  If you’re a Connecticut contractor reading this, you’re well aware of what happened when the brakes failed on a poorly maintained dump truck and it collided with rush hour traffic at the bottom of Avon Mountain; killing 4 people, and injuring another 11.  Accidents of this severity are rare, but still too common. 


Types of Claims:

Collisions.  Car on Car.  Car into building.  Car flips into ditch.

Comprehensive .  Car is stolen.  Car is broken into.  Windshield is smashed.


Loss Control Suggestions:

Defensive Driving Training

Annual MVRs for all personnel operating company vehicles.

Drug testing.  Pre-hire and ongoing.

NO CELL PHONE USE IN COMPANY VEHICLES (especially in states where it is illegal)

Schedule all vehicles under Symbol 1.  This will cover every vehicle for highway/roadway use that your company has, and will automatically add any vehicle that you purchase throughout the course of the insurance policy term. Otherwise, if you purchase a vehicle and neglect to update your agent or broker, the vehicle could potentially be operating without insurance.


One last thing…there is a bit of ambiguity on some vehicles as to whether they should be covered by a Commercial General Liability policy or a Business Auto Policy.  Some pieces of equipment can be considered automobiles one minute and mobile equipment the next.  The answer to how to cover this exposure is “it depends”.  If you’re driving a cherry picker to the job site, it’s an automobile.  But as soon as it is parked and is being used to service a power line, it becomes mobile equipment.   We find that insuring it as both a vehicle and as well as scheduling it on your mobile equipment helps to cover all your bases and claim scenarios.

Check back this afternoon for another exciting blog post about Commercial Property Coverage!

About the Author:

Dan Phelan runs the marketing department at Construction Risk Advisors when he's not out helping his clients with risk management and insurance issues.  If you want to connect on twitter, he's at @fixyourrisk and here on Facebook

dan phelan litchfield insurance group

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