As part of Aprilâ€™s Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign, Pasadena Police Department will be actively ticketing those texting or operating hand-held cell phones on Friday, April 5th. Drivers who break the law and place themselves and others in danger will be cited with no warnings. The current minimum ticket cost is $159, with subsequent tickets costing at least $279. Last April, over 57,000 tickets were written statewide for texting and hand-held cell use. There were nearly 450,000 convictions in 2012. Whether itâ€™s a ticket or a crash, as the campaign theme states, â€œItâ€™s Not Worth It!â€
Distracted driving is a serious traffic safety concern that puts everyone on the road at risk. 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. Nationally, an estimated 3,331 died in 2011. As a result, law enforcement across the state, including Pasadena Police Department, are increasingly cracking down on cell phone use and texting. This April will see over 225 local agencies plus the CHP conducting zero tolerance enforcements.
â€œWe all know that talking on our cell phones while driving is distracting, but that doesnâ€™t stop some people from continuing to do it,â€ said Pasadena Police Departmentâ€™s Chief, Phillip L. Sanchez â€œThis effort is intended to educate our community about the dangers of cell phone use while driving. 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.â€
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. In addition, studies show that texting while driving can delay a driverâ€™s reaction time just as severely as having a blood alcohol content of a legally drunk driver.
Studies also show that there is no difference in the risks between hands-free and hand-held cell phone conversations, both of which can result in â€œinattention blindnessâ€ which occurs when the brain isnâ€™t seeing what is clearly visible because the driversâ€™ focus is on the phone conversation and not on the road. When over one third of your brainâ€™s functioning that should be on your driving moves over to cell phone talking, you can become a cell phone â€œzombie.â€
To avoid a distracted driving ticket or crash, Pasadena Police Department offers drivers the following tips:
â€¢ Turn off your phone and/or put it out of reach while driving
â€¢ Include in your outgoing message that you canâ€™t answer while you are driving
â€¢ Donâ€™t call or text anyone at a time when you think they may be driving
Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.