April is Distracted Driver Awareness Month and police agencies across the state are planning a massive blitz aimed squarely at drivers trying to operate their vehicle and their handheld device at the same time. Since 2008 the state of California has banned the use of handheld or hands-free devices by drivers 18 and younger, and all hand-held devices by drivers over 18. (They are still permitted to use hands-free devices.)
A citation for talking on a cell phone while driving (violating the texting/talking ban) is $159 for the first offense and $279 for the second offense.
Since the ban was first instituted police in California have handed out hundreds of thousands of tickets to drivers who violated the distracted driving ban. Last year more than 400,000 distracted driving citations were issued which marked a more than 30 percent from the number issued in 2009.
Yet police say more can and should be done to discourage drivers from engaging in what many traffic safety experts consider the most dangerous activity behind the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says statistics show that distracted driving is more likely to result in a vehicle collision and possible fatality than even drunk driving. Their statistics are given weight by insurance institutes which have found that there are more than 1.2 million distracted driving related vehicle collisions in the country every year accounting for thousands of traffic deaths.
Regardless of whether you believe distracted driving is dangerous or not, the law in California states that you simply cannot do it. And next month California police will be out in force reminding drivers of that very thing.