Drivers in the greater Sacramento region who are still using handheld cell phones or texting will be targeted for special enforcement in a campaign that started Monday. Extra law enforcement officers from 37 police departments and the California Highway Patrol will be on the streets through March 10, looking for those putting themselves and others in danger by these distracted driving practices.
This marks the second of three special high-visibility enforcement periods, testing tactics that may be employed nationally in the future.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the California Office of Traffic Safety $600,000 to fund three waves of enforcement and “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other” public awareness designed to convince drivers that distracted driving is dangerous. The first operation in December saw 3,008 citations issued, despite being hampered by bad weather. The special enforcement region stretches from Modesto to Marysville and Vallejo to South Lake Tahoe.
“Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous actions you can take on our roadways,” said OTS Director Christopher J. Murphy. “Handheld talking or texting on a cell phone while driving will no longer be tolerated. This campaign will offer a tough reminder to any drivers caught by law enforcement breaking the mobile device laws.”
The number of distracted driving deaths is rising nationally, up to 3,331 in 2011 with more than 400,000 injured. In 2011, the California Department of Motor Vehicles reported more than 475,000 convictions for handheld cell phone usage and texting.
Distracted drivers talking on a handheld cell phone or texting will receive a first-ti me ticket costing a minimum of $159 with a second offense costing $279.