Earlier this year, Channel 3, the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, and Trantolo & Trantolo partnered to encourage Connecticut citizens to take the I-Promise pledge. Last week, WFSB reported, Coventry High School students were the latest to promise to be safer drivers.

As part of a safety presentation about the dangers of distracted driving, students were expected to both make a pledge – not just sign – and realize the dangers of such behavior. I-Promise’s core points, to which the teens pledged, are:

• I-PROMISE not to drive distracted
• I-PROMISE not to text while driving
• I-PROMISE to keep my hands on the wheel
• I-PROMISE to keep my eyes on the road

Although the presentation at Coventry High School was specifically geared toward teens, distracted driving and I-Promise’s mission have no age limits. As WFSB pointed out, 40 percent of U.S. teens have been in a car with a driver taking a cell phone call. On the other hand, distracted driving is not restricted to calls and texting; additionally, reading, eating, grooming, using a GPS, or using a radio, CD, or MP3 player all fall within this scope.

As we pointed out, in discussing the “No Text On Board – Pledge Day” held on September 19, texting is even worse than driving drunk — six times more dangerous, in fact. In sending or reading a text, the driver diverts his or her visual, manual, and cognitive skills away from the road for at least 4.6 seconds. Because of this, Connecticut has strict distracted driving laws, encompassing both calls and texting. Adults may be fined $125 to $400 for offenses, while teens face harsher penalties. Connecticut is one of 30 states with such laws.

To combat driving-related fatalities for teens, stricter driving laws were enacted four years ago, as of this August. Teens now receive more training, parents are expected to participate more, and these 16- and 17-year-old drivers face greater restrictions and more stringent penalties. The result has been lower driving-related deaths within this age group.