April crackdown on distracted driving


Law enforcement all over the state will be on high alert this month, looking for drivers using their cell phones to text or talk without a headset, officials with the Mountain View police and California Highway Patrol said.

April marks the second annual "National Distracted Driving Awareness Month," and the California Office of Traffic Safety wants drivers to know that more than 200 local police departments -- including the Mountain View Police Department-- and 103 CHP offices will be taking part.

You may have seen the television ad, produced by the OTS: A police officer pulls over an undead driver and asks the groaning ghoul behind the wheel if he knows why he was stopped.

"Uggghhh..." is the reply.

"Don't be a zombie," the ad warns, implying that those who choose to focus on their handsets, instead of the road, are a lot like the clumsy, brain-craving monsters in horror movies -- able to move in a general direction, but mostly unaware of their surroundings. And dangerous.

"Drivers need to ask themselves, 'Is that phone call or text message worth my life or the lives of those around me?'" asked CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow, in a press release. "The answer is simple, it's not worth it."

The Mountain View Police Department recognizes National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, according to spokeswoman Liz Wylie. However, she said, the department has only planned two specific days where extra officers will be deployed with the explicit task of nabbing drivers violating California's two "hands free" laws.

The first extra-enforcement day was April 3, Wylie said. The next will be April 18.

Last April, police in Mountain View issued 2,344 citations for "hands free" violations. Statewide more than 52,000 cell phone citations were issued over the same period, according to the CHP press release -- four times California's monthly average.

A first-time ticket for driving while texting or using a cell phone without a headset is $159, at minimum. A second violation will cost a driver at least $279.


Like this comment
Posted by sean
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 5, 2012 at 2:16 pm

sean is a registered user.

Wow 52,000! Lets assume 20% were repeat offenders (10,400)
10,400 x $279 = $2,901,600.00
41,600 x $159 = $6,614,400.00

Almost $10,000,000.00 dollars just last April.
(four times California's monthly average.)

We may see more of this!

Like this comment
Posted by Russ
a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 5, 2012 at 2:29 pm

I really wish they would do this EVERY DAY!

As a motorcycle rider I am in constant leathal danger from these people.
That's how I broke my collar bone and had a concussion from a blind lane change right into my bike. Luckily, I was only doing about 5 mph!

Like this comment
Posted by Dodging
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Apr 5, 2012 at 2:46 pm

speeders, red light runners, non-signal users, tailgaters, aggressive frequent lane changers, stop sign rollers....with the driver's behaviors I see daily, the police have a lot more to "crack down" than just distracted drivers.

Like this comment
Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 5, 2012 at 2:54 pm

If driving while talking or texting on a cell phone is soooooo dangerous someone please tell me why the police are EXEMPT from this law?

What is so important that can't be covered by the millions of dollars in radios and computers they already have in their vehicles?

It's just another case of "Do as I say, not as I do."

Like this comment
Posted by Sparty
a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 5, 2012 at 3:47 pm

This needs a anthropomorphic mascot. Like Reggie Radar Gun or maybe a cute animal.

Something to help distinguish April from the 11 months of texting/talking on phones being ignored by police.

Like this comment
Posted by Sparty
a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm

anyone here think they can out drive a police officer or CHP?

then why are you here and not a world famous race car driver?

Amazing that so many people who read this website are able to out drive the CHP candidates who have had expert training and still find the high speed driving test to be the #1 reason for washing out of the academy.

Like this comment
Posted by Dr GreenThumb
a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 5, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Sparty, what are you talking about? Having a bad day brah?

Like this comment
Posted by The Nose
a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 5, 2012 at 8:22 pm

What is the doctor missing if he drives about oblivious to scores of fellow drivers texting and making phone calls?

Perhaps a HMO GP

Like this comment
Posted by Aloysious
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2012 at 6:31 am

The motorist who is not distracted is very rare. For confirmation one needs only to recall/note their internal monologue the last/next time they take the wheel.

"Driving" requires taking and maintaining "conscious control of the attentional spotlight", and that requires constant effort. The mind wanders, naturally, no matter how many hands may be on the wheel.

Like this comment
Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 9, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Hey Sparty:

Just FYI - When this law first passed, and I kept seeing so many San Jose PD on their phones while driving.. I sent an email to the San Jose PD. I asked if they were specially trained or otherwise better qualified to operate a motor vehicle while using a cell phone.

I did the same with the CHP.

Both agencies reported they are given no special training to enable them to safely operate a motor vehicle while talking on a cell phone better than anyone else on the road.

But the San Jose PD said they had no plans to force their officers to stop. The CHP said they were considering a policy on the matter.

So the claim of being "expert" drivers means nothing when it comes to driving and talking on a cell phone. The experts admit they are doing so at their own, and our, peril.

Like this comment
Posted by Robbie
a resident of Whisman Station
on Apr 9, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Cops are not any better or worse drivers than anyone else. The real reason they were exempted in the law is because otherwise they would have opposed it and legislators would have voted it down even in its current wimpy version.

Like this comment
Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2012 at 9:48 pm

There aren't enough cops on the road for their driving behavior to make any difference to our safety. That is both the good news and the bad news.

Like this comment
Posted by Wilma
a resident of Castro City
on Apr 10, 2012 at 9:34 am

How many drivers that get pulled over argue about the semantics of "hands free"? If you are holding the phone while driving it is not hands free. And really, is anyones life THAT important that you can't wait to make or return a phone call?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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