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A driver talks on his cell phone as he drives to his house in Vienna, VA.
Californians spend a lot of time driving in their cars, but a lot of that time behind the wheel is also spent talking on the phone, texting, eating, reading magazines, and applying makeup, among other activities. Such distractions can lead to treacherous consequences for motorists.
Therefore, for a 24-hour period, from 6 a.m. this Friday until 6 a.m. Saturday in the Sacramento area, the California Highway Patrol is implementing a “zero tolerance” cell phone enforcement day to thwart dangerous driving habits.
Patrol officers will not only be on the lookout for cell phone use, but for all types of unsafe activities being committed by drivers. Fines for cell phone violations are $20 for the first offense and $50 for the second offense. With court costs and other fees, the total cost can add up to more than $100.
Moreover, under California’s vehicle code, a driver can be ticketed $145 to $1,000 for having “wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” A similar distracted driving deterrent campaign, for 48 hours, was enforced by the CHP in Los Angeles County this past August. More than 85 percent of the recorded 494 citations handed out within the first 24-hour period of that crackdown involved people holding their phones while driving instead of using a hands-free device. Thirteen of the citations given during that first 24-hour period were due to other forms of distracted driving.
What will it take to stop people from texting or talking on cell phones while driving? What more should law enforcement officials do to hamper this problem?
CHP Officer Saul Gomez, California Highway Patrol public information officer in Los Angeles County
Dave Rizzo, known as Dr. Roadmap; author of "Survive the Drive!" – in which he offers advice for daily commuters, business travelers, visitors and tourists as they Southern California's freeways, deal with road rage and help to plan commutes to save travel time