The New Milford Police Department Safe Driving Initiative "Drive Like Your Kids Live Here'' road signs will be erected at major intersections throughout town. "Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine'' postcards are now available at the Police Department, Town Hall, public buildings and area businesses.
NEW MILFORD -- Police Sgt. James Dzamko remembers every fatal crash he has ever investigated and the dreaded knock on the door to tell an unsuspecting family they have just lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident.
He wants his fellow officers to be vigilant about enforcing safe driving laws so there are fewer lives lost.
"Drive Like Your Kids Live Here'' and "Obey the sign or pay the fine'' are the key themes of the department's new safe driving and enforcement initiative, which Dzamko helped launch this month.
They are not original slogans but were borrowed from other safe driving campaigns in Connecticut.
Mayor Patricia Murphy arranged to have about 50 "Drive Like Your Kids Live Here'' signs made to post at major intersections and in neighborhoods throughout town.
Dzamko borrowed the other slogan from state law enforcement promotional literature. He used it on eye-catching postcards that offer a brief explanation of New Milford's safe driving initiative and remind people to lower their speed, use hands-free cellphone devices, wear seat belts, obey traffic signals and properly install child safety seats.
The back of the postcards lists fines for the most common violations and explains the graduated license laws for 16- and 17-year-old drivers, including a note that they are prohibited from using any cellphone device, hand-held or otherwise.
Dzamko said he hopes the "Drive Like Your Kids Live Here'' signs "make an impact." So people don't start to ignore them, the signs will be moved periodically to new locations.
"Motor vehicle violations are the root cause of crashes,'' Dzamko said, noting that new technology has made distracted driving a frequent factor in accidents.
Though firm data on the effect of cellphone use and texting while driving is still emerging, Dzamko said it seems obvious that "texting and looking down at a little screen is probably not such a good idea.''
Police Chief Shawn Boyne announced the initiative as a department commitment to protect the lives of those who travel the town's roads and live in its neighborhoods.
Dzamko said the first thing people on an amusement park ride do is make sure they are buckled in, yet the same people travel at higher speeds in cars without using a seat belt.
This campaign is about reinforcing the need to obey all motor vehicle laws, because what drivers do behind the wheel "doesn't just impact their lives but other people's lives,'' he said.