California’s second annual Distracted Driving Awareness Month will once again find law enforcement in Orange County joining the statewide ‘zero tolerance’ enforcement efforts. A ticket for violating either the hands free or no texting law costs a minimum of $160 for a first time violation.
Distracted driving is a serious traffic safety concern that puts everyone on the road at risk, joining speeding and alcohol as leading factors in fatal and serious injury crashes. As a result, law enforcement across the state is increasingly cracking down on cell phone use and texting. Starting April 1st and throughout the month, The Orange County Sheriff’s Department will join hundreds of police and sheriff departments plus the CHP in conducting distracted driving enforcement operations.
“Our deputies take distracted driving very seriously.” said Deputy Wayne Howard of the Sheriff’s Department Traffic Bureau. “If you make the choice to drive while texting or talking on the phone without a hands-free device, be aware that a distracted driving violation is going to cost you a minimum of $160”.
Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more 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 driver’s reaction time just as severely as having the blood alcohol content of a legally drunk driver.
“Changing the dangerous, illegal habit of using hand-held cell phones or texting while driving isn’t easy,” said Office of Traffic Safety Director Christopher J. Murphy. “But recent studies show that California’s cell and texting laws have made a big difference – cutting deaths by nearly half. But half is not enough.”
There are simple measures drivers can take to minimize distractions in the vehicle:
- Turn your phone off or put it out of reach before starting the car.
- Alert callers that you are unable to take calls when driving by changing your voicemail message.
- Make it a point not to call or text anyone who may be driving, such as during the commute to and from work or school, especially parents calling teen drivers.
- If you do need to make an important call or respond to a text message, pull over to a safe place to do so.
For more information on April's Distracted Driving Campaign, contact the Public Affairs Office at (714) 647-7042.