Editor's Note: The following article was submitted to Patch by the San Mateo Police Department. To submit a story for publication, please e-mail email@example.com.
How often do you see drivers texting or talking with hand-held cell phones and wish they would be stopped and cited?
The San Mateo Police Department will once again be joining hundreds of agencies in statewide ‘zero tolerance’ enforcement efforts for illegal cell phone use and texting violations during the third annual Distracted Driving Awareness Month this April, sponsored by California’s Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).
Distracted driving is a serious traffic safety concern, joining speeding and alcohol as leading factors in fatal and serious injury crashes. A ticket for violating either the hands free or no texting law costs a minimum of $159, and subsequent tickets cost $279.
“Our officers have seen the grave results of distracted driving.” said San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer, “If you haven’t heeded all the safety messaging to put down your mobile device or sandwich and just drive - be forewarned! … and remember, this campaign isn’t about avoiding a costly ticket; it’s about keeping yourself and the ones you care about alive.”
• Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
• Younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.
• 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 handheld cell phone and texting convictions, with more than 57,000 tickets issued in April alone.
“Our SMPD Traffic and Patrol Officers will be joining agencies all over California for 2 statewide enforcement days, and will be conducting special distracted driving enforcement details each week through the month of April." says SMPD Traffic Sergeant Tim Sullivan, "We are out there as a reminder, but the responsibility is yours. Please drive safely, and hold that call or text until you are legally parked!”
OTS Safety Tips – “Don’t be a distracted “zombie” on the road!”
Avoid falling victim to “zombie-like” distracted driving behaviors – Follow these tips that can be implemented by any motorist:
• 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
See a fuller version of SMPD’s message and safety tips, and the 30 second Distracted Zombie Video on our public safety blog:
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