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Law enforcement officers throughout San Diego County will be on the lookout for texting, eating, primping or otherwise distracted drivers starting Wednesday as Distracted Driving Awareness Month gets underway.

The California Office of Traffic Safety, the California Highway Patrol, the Carlsbad and National City police departments, the county sheriff’s department and other law enforcement agencies plan to ramp up their efforts to prevent distracted driving throughout April.

Police officers in Carlsbad and National City will conduct a high-visibility enforcement details Wednesday, and again in two weeks. They will be on the lookout for motorists talking or texting on hand-held devices, along with those who are eating, drinking, programming a GPS or similar device, reading, grooming or watching videos while driving.

“Driving takes one’s full attention and any distraction can have deadly, dangerous consequences,” National City Police Sgt. Jeffrey Meeks said. “Imagine driving for four or five seconds while blindfolded. That can be the effect of looking down to send a text message. In the average time it takes to check a text message — less than five seconds — a car travelling 60 mph will travel more than the length of a football field.”

Authorities urged drivers to silence or power down their cell phones and other devices so they won’t be tempted to use them while behind the wheel. Around 80 percent of traffic crashes involve some type of distraction, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.

In addition to the patrols, officers plan to visit schools, give safety presentations and media interviews regarding distracted driving among teens. California Teen Safe Driving Week runs through Tuesday.

“Each of us must drive responsibly, keeping full attention to the task at hand — driving. If you have teenagers in your family who are driving, make sure they understand the laws and what their responsibilities are as well,” Meeks said. “The collective goal with this monthlong campaign is to change the behavior of all drivers. That change begins with education.”

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.