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LASD - Los Angeles County Sheriffs Dept Information Bureau (SIB)
Tuesday April 5th, 2011 :: 08:33 p.m. PDT


Driven to distracted driving? Zero tolerance enforcement days this month

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Joins Effort to Crack Down on Cell Phone Use and Texting during the month of April.

How often do you see drivers texting or talking with hand-held cell phones and wish they would be stopped and cited? As part of California's first Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April, law enforcement in the Southern region including Los Angeles County are holding zero tolerance days for cell phone use and texting. A ticket for violating either the hands-free or no texting law costs a minimum of $159, and subsequent tickets cost $279.

Distracted driving is a serious traffic safety concern that puts everyone on the road at risk,and has joined speeding and alcohol as leading factors in fatal and serious injury crashes.

As a result, law enforcement officers throughout the state are increasingly cracking down on cell phone use and texting. Starting April 4th and throughout the month, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has joined over 225 local agencies plus 103 California Highway Patrol Area Commands conducting zero tolerance enforcements.

"We take the issue of distracted driving very seriously." said Captain Shaun Mathers, Sheriff's Risk Management Bureau. "Cell phone use and texting while driving is such a serious concern that we are putting officers on the road to enforce zero tolerance. Is that text message or cell phone call really worth $159?"

Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. Younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. In addition, studies show that texting while driving can delay a driver's reaction time just as severely as having a blood alcohol content of a legally drunk driver.

"We recognize that convincing drivers to refrain from using cell phones or texting while driving isn't easy," said Office of Traffic Safety Director Christopher J. Murphy. "It's very difficult to resist the urge to check an incoming text or answer a cell phone call. That's why we are stepping up enforcement and public awareness efforts. Convincing California drivers to wear seat belts 20 years ago wasn't easy either, but in 2010 more than 96 percent buckled up and thousands of lives were saved."

Studies show that there is no difference in the risks between hands-free and hand-held cell phone conversations, both of which can result in "inattention blindness" which occurs when the brain isn't seeing what is clearly visible because the drivers' focus is on the phone conversation and not on the road.

There are simple measures drivers can take to minimize distractions in the vehicle:

* Turn your phone off or put it out of reach before starting the car

* Alert callers that you are unable to take calls when driving by changing your voicemail message.

* Make it a point not to call or text anyone who may be driving, such as during their commute to and from work or school, especially parents calling teen drivers.

*If you do need to make an important call or respond to a text message, pull over to a safe place to do so.

*If going "cold turkey" is too difficult and you just can't turn your phone off, consider using one of the available mobile phone apps that holds calls and incoming texts.

"We just want drivers to use some common sense when they're behind the wheel and focus on driving," said Murphy. "Think about the vast majority of calls and texts you send or receive every day. Were any really worth a $159 ticket - or worse, a crash, injury or death? It's just not worth it."

Deputy Alan J. Healey
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Risk Management Bureau
Traffic Services Detail
323-890-5409 (Office)

Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
(323) 267-4800

Leroy D. Baca, Sheriff

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