California Highway patrol has drawn a line in the sand when it comes to distracted drivers. In fact, they announced today they have a ‘zero tolerance’ stance against distracted drivers and will be diligently enforcing the state’s existing distracted driving law all this week. In July 2008, California state law banned the use of handheld cellphones while driving. The use of hands-free devices, such as Blue Tooth or routing your phone through you car stereo are acceptable, however police say anything which diverts a driver’s attention away from the skills they need to employ while driving, is a danger to everyone on the road.

CHP spokesman Jerry Pierce cellphone use among drivers isn’t more prevalent among any particular age group, but he is most concerned about young drivers who are more susceptible to distractions. Drivers younger than 18 have restrictions on driving with passengers because they can be distracting. With the average teenager sending about 14,000 to 16,000 text messages per year, Pierce said cellphones are likely to become major distractions.

“It’s a habit of ours,” Pierce said. “Your phone rings, and what are you supposed to do? You answer it.”

This impulse to do what has become second nature for some people is of little concern to police whose job it is to enforce the laws as written. And in California, for four years now, using a handheld device while driving has been illegal. A recent spate of distracted driving related crashes has forced police to take action against those drivers who still seem to have not receive the message.

This weeks special enforcement period will last at least until Friday and will be focused on anyone who uses a cell phone while driving. It is possible the special distracted driving enforcement period will be extended through the weekend if police encounter more distracted drivers than they might expect. Successful enforcement programs mean there is a good reason for these programs to be active which often leads police to keep them going until a majority of drivers finally get the message.