April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the CHP is cracking down on those texting and driving.
Texting and driving is common among California motorists, but the California Highway Patrol and other local law enforcement agencies want to send the message that it’s also distracting and deadly.
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Individual law enforcement agencies will be looking for mobile device offenders in their areas throughout the month, but April 3, 8, 17 and 22 have also been earmarked for special statewide enforcement for all the allied law enforcement agencies.
The increased enforcement aims to persuade drivers that distracted driving is dangerous and reduce the number of people impacted by this behavior, because a phone call or text simply isn’t worth a hefty fine or a collision, according to a CHP press release.
Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the release said.
Even a three second glance at freeway speeds means a driver has traveled the distance of a football field.
The National Safety Council also emphasizes that using hands free devices to talk on the phone or send a text are no safer.
Distracted driving is especially a problem among teenagers and newly licensed drivers, said Officer John Lutz, spokesman for the CHP Newhall Office.
“Traffic collisions are the number one killer of teenages in America,” he said. “Nationally, …about 5,000 teenagers die in automobile crashes every year.”
April 2-8 California Teen Safe Driving Week, sponsored by Impact Teen Drivers. The week is dedicated to empowering teens to make meaningful behavioral changes in their own driving habits, as well as to promote safe driving in their community.
In 2013, the California Department of Motor Vehicles reported more than 426,000 handheld cell phone and texting convictions, and more than 57,000 tickets were issued in April alone.
The ticket cost for a first time texting or hand-held cell phone violation is about $162, with subsequent tickets costing about $282.
“Distracted driving has become a dangerous epidemic nationwide and we want to do everything we can to stop it here and now,” said OTS Acting Director Russia Chavis. “…By working together, we can eliminate crashes and the senseless loss of lives of that can result from distracted driving.”
To help resist the temptation to text or talk on the phone and drive, the CHP and OTS offer these safety tips.
- Turn off your phone or put it on silent mode, then put it out of reach while driving.
- Record an outgoing message on your phone that tells callers you’re driving and will get back to them when you’re off the road.
- Adjust controls and set your song playlist before you set out on the road.
- If it’s urgent, pull over in a safe place to place a call.
- Focus on driving, and avoid eating, drinking, reading, grooming, smoking, and any other activity that.
For more information about Distracted Driving Awareness Month and related enforcement, click here.
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Source: Santa Clarita News