Put the cellphone down and drive, CHP says

Drivers who insist on yakking on their cellphones between their hand and cheek, as opposed to hands-free should expect no less than a traffic ticket. This month, particularly, on April 3, 8, 17 and 22, law enforcement agencies statewide will hit the road in an effort to save lives by pulling over and educating drivers about the dangers of driving while talking on their hand-held cellphones. "Catastrophic crashes can happen in a split second,” said Brian Kelly, Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency. “No text or phone call is worth that risk.” In 2013, there were more than 426,000 handheld cell phone and texting convictions, with more than 57,000 tickets issued in April alone, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Meanwhile, more than 3,000 people nationwide died at the hands of a distracted driver in 2012. Another 400,000 were injured in such crashes. Research shows that sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. In comparison, a three second glance while traveling at freeway speeds means the driver went the distance of a football field. To avoid the $162 first time offense for driving distracted, consider:
  • Turning off your phone, silencing it or putting it out of reach while driving;
  • Record an outgoing message to caller letting them know you are on the road and will return their call as soon as possible;
  • Setting your radio and temperature controls before you pull away from the curb;
  • Focusing on driving and only driving.
If the call or message is important, pull over to a safe place, such as a parking lot or neighborhood before having the conversation. Freeway on- and off-ramps, as well as the shoulder along the side of the freeway is not a safe place to place such calls. Learn more about distracted driving at www.distraction.gov, www.ots.ca.gov, www.chp.ca.gov and teen information at www.impactteendrivers.org.
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