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CHP Crack Down on Distracted Drivers

A ticket for violating either the hands free or no texting law costs a minimum of $159, and subsequent tickets cost $279.

The California Highway Patrol and law enforcement across California are preparing to crack down on distracted drivers in April.

As part of a statewide “Distracted Driving Awareness Month” campaign, more than 225 local agencies plus the CHP have announced a “no warnings” policy and will be actively ticketing drivers caught texting or talking with hand-held cell phones throughout April.

A ticket for violating either the hands free or no texting law costs a minimum of $159, and subsequent tickets cost $279, according the California Highway Patrol.

In recent years, hundreds have been killed and thousands seriously injured in California as a result of collisions that involved at least one driver who was distracted, according the California Highway Patrol. Nationally, an estimated 3,331 people died in 2011.

“We all know that talking on our cell phones while driving is distracting, but that doesn't stop some people from continuing to do it,” Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz said.

Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves, according to the California Highway Patrol. Younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. In addition, studies show that texting while driving can delay a driver’s reaction time just as severely as having a blood alcohol content of a legally drunk driver.

In 2012, the California Department of Motor Vehicles reported nearly 450,000 hand-held cell phone and texting convictions, with more than 57,000 tickets issued in April alone.

“This effort is intended to educate our community about the dangers of cell phone use while driving,” Diaz said. “We hope that once people see the statistics and realize the danger involved, they will change their driving habits to help protect themselves, their families and others on the road.”

Law enforcement offered some simple tips drivers can take to minimize distractions while driving:

  • Turn off your phone and/or put it out of reach while driving
  • Include in your outgoing message that you can't answer while you are driving
  • Don't call or text anyone at a time when you think they may be driving
  • Adjust controls and set your song playlist before you set out on the road
  • Stay alert and keep your mind on the task of driving – often after a long day at work or a not-so-restful night's sleep, people's minds can wander when behind the wheel. If you find yourself daydreaming, clear your head and focus on the road

-The California Highway Patrol and City News Service contributed to this report 

BunNothing! March 30, 2013 at 11:46 PM
Can you also crack down on the murderer that is on the loose right now?
AlwaysPO'd March 30, 2013 at 11:58 PM
Penalties should be stiff enough to scare the "H" out of those thinking about doing it. Obviously $159/$279 isn't doing it. Points on their record might help also.
BK March 31, 2013 at 02:04 AM
I say put the hammer down, and put it down very hard. There is absolutely no excuses for this. Today I stayed at a red light for a very long time with no traffic moving from the other direction. Why? Because an old woman decided to stop at the corner while the light was green for her. Why did she stop? Because she was talking on the phone. The light never triggered for us to go. I had to exit my vehicle and ask her to be considerate of others, and move to the side of the road so the light can change and we can all go on about our business. She pulled over, the light changed, and we carried on. Simple. By the way, a police officer was right behind me, saw what I was doing, and allowed this senior citizen to escape ticket free. To the Police Officers out there: BE CONSISTENT is all we ask.
wolfcreek March 31, 2013 at 03:46 AM
Let’s see, distracted drivers…….at least 99% of all drivers including me
Shari March 31, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Please go to the schools in the morning when drivers are hauling A & on cell phones I just dont get that
Vor March 31, 2013 at 04:30 PM
Spot on bun. We have heard NOTHING
J Love March 31, 2013 at 06:03 PM
I agree with cracking down harder. $159/$279 is too lenient. It needs to be much, much higher where people actually think about it. I have seen way too many people on their phones driving AND TEXTING, especially on freeways. It needs to STOP and the only way to get people to pay attention is by having very STIFF fines for it. They should be higher than speeding tickets by far!
Gandhi March 31, 2013 at 09:45 PM
"distracted drivers" are referring to THOSE USING HANDS ON CEL PHONES Wolfcreek, obviously, if you fall into that category, hope they catch YOU!
Gandhi March 31, 2013 at 09:46 PM
And you wont, until a $ reward is offered!
Gandhi March 31, 2013 at 09:49 PM
They fine you something like $400 for running a red light, this could even be not coming to a "complete" stop when making a right turn on red, so why such a small fine for texting when it has proven to be so deadly to innocent drivers? I see people CONSTANTLY on their phones while driving, I mean CONSTANTLY, I can't go one block without seeing someone on their damn phones. Why havent the police BEEN ENFORCING this law is my question?! The police in this town are not doing their duty as far as I'm concerned. Too many preventable accidents involving injuries that might not have happened if we had police out there enforcing the laws.
john blackwood April 01, 2013 at 09:39 AM
Maam out of all due respect .I constantly see the cops out giving ticket to people.People will text and of cohrse you will see the person driving next to you doing texting and talking . But if your a cop in a cop car everyone becomes an honest person .Good driver ppl slow down .But when the cop is gone all heck breaks loose .
Don J April 01, 2013 at 05:24 PM
The money is ridiculous, I fully agree that use of a phone causes distractions, I would say that using a GPS does the same thing (unless of course they are used properly before you begin driving). It is a scam to get money from drivers out there. Let's face it, the city can make a lot more profit by utilizing red light cameras as opposed to actual police officers. I hope it frees up time and allows them to pursue crimes / criminals which pose physical danger to law abiding citizens. I do not support fix-it tickets/red light cameras/ and other tactics used to bring in revenue while at the same time loosening restrictions on convicted criminals being released due to jail over-crowding. Support your rights and voice your opinions and for goodness sake right your assemblyman and local policitians as often as we do on here !
Gandhi April 01, 2013 at 11:12 PM
Well, John, I dont! I've lived here 26 years, and I can drive through this city, hitting 8 major intersections, and see probably 40 or more people talking and texting on phones while doing so, and I have NEVER seen a cop go after any of these "criminals" once. I'm out there literally every day, between 4-6pm, I've seen stuff that just makes you wanna scream "idiot!", but would prefer a cop was there. If we had the cameras going at the red lights that also might help? They could at least see those who are on their phones as they go through the intersections.
Gandhi April 01, 2013 at 11:15 PM
Actually Don, a gps is something you just glance at, its "hands free" and there is little to NO interaction, so no, I dont think there is any comparison between texting, which incorporates both your eyes lowered AND hands to a gps which requires neither. Yes, I DO agree about the cameras there though, they are already installed, turn them on!! I do NOT see cops out there pulling people over and I drive around this town every single day, we only have like 8 major streets and intersections so you can pretty much see if any cops are out there. A cop on a bike can easily be off to the side and somebody texting or talking is not really paying much attention anyway, so I know they could snag them. This is a BIG problem in accidents and it shouldnt be.

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