SHELTON, Conn. — After a number of serious accidents in the region, Shelton police staged a mock arrest Thursday to highlight the dangers of driving under the influence or while texting.
Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, state Rep. Chris Rosario and others spoke to the media, emphasizing that police will be out in force this holiday weekend.
“Texting while driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving,” said Sgt. Mark Siglinger of the city’s Traffic Division.
Officers will be patrolling popular picnic spots and will be watching bars at closing time, he said.
With thousands of drivers planning to travel during the long holiday weekend, Connecticut state troopers are also preparing to patrol in increased numbers to keep roads and highways safe.
Brandon Dufour of The Next Street Driving School, which has a location in Shelton, urged parents to talk to their teens about assigning a designated driver or making safe backup plans before they head out to holiday parties and events.
Parents should restate any house rules and remind young drivers that they can call or text home — no questions asked — if they feel their original plans are too dangerous due to alcohol or drug use by a driver, said Pam Mautte, director of the Greater Valley Substance Abuse Action Council.
In a 2016 survey of 11th-graders in five Naugatuck Valley communities, about 5 percent of students said they had driven while under the influence with a full 16 percent saying they had ridden in a car driven by someone under the influence, she said.
Alcohol or drugs are involved in a third of all boating and watercraft fatalities, she said.
During last year’s Fourth of July weekend, Connecticut State Police issued 859 summons for speeding, and 33 more for driving under the influence.
State police investigated 170 motor vehicle crashes, including 48 with injuries and two fatalities.
Jade Serrano, a Shelton High School senior and daughter of Sgt. William Serrano, acted out the consequences of texting while driving and drunk driving with Officer Chris Robak.
Shelton police said the mock arrest was important after several recent accidents on nearby roadways.
An Easton teen was in critical condition after a Sunday accident in Redding, in which he was thrown from a car.
On Monday, a Derby man died on Route 8 when he tried to drive his motorcycle between two cars and was thrown onto the back of one car.
In February, 17-year-old Shelton High School senior Edmund Conklin was killed in a single-car accident.
Police Chief Shawn Sequeira said all residents should look out for friends and family members this weekend.
“I urge everyone to be safe and enjoy your holiday,” he said.
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