The CHP announced this week their officers would be targeting teenaged drivers who run afoul of the state’s distracted driving law. It’s a year long campaign being funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The project is aimed squarely at teenage drivers and is part public outreach and part crackdown. Patrols will be increased and teens targeted for citations, but the idea is to get them to drive defensively, stay safe on the roads, not just hand out tickets.
There is a great deal evidence across the nation which shows that teenagers are at a much higher risk of death behind the wheel. Vehicle collisions remain the leading cause of death from people under the age of 20. In California in particular the problem is even more extreme. A recent COTS study showed that more than 20,000 teenagers were involved in distracted driving related vehicle collisions in two years between 2009 and 2011.
The new program will hit teens where it is likely to hurt them the most: their pockets. Drivers who receive a distracted driving ticket will have to pay a $20 fine for their first offense, and $50 for the second. The more times they are busted for distracted driving, the higher the fees and fines go, as much as $60 or more.
Whether teens are texting or talking on their cell phones, they are driving distracted. If the CHP or any law enforcement officer sees them they will pay fine and hopefully learn a lesson about just how risky that behavior is.