It’s been 10 years since California’s first distracted driving law was enacted, and to mark the anniversary law enforcement agencies across San Diego and the state are cracking down.
April is “Distracted Driving Awareness Month,” and this week is “California Teen Safe Driving Week.” In observance, April 5 and 13 have been designated as the two statewide dates when law enforcement agencies will step up distracted driving enforcement activities.
The California Department of Transportation is also displaying distracted driving messages on the changeable message signs on freeways. And the California Office of Traffic Safety is launching a new advertising campaign, “Just Drive,” in an effort to remind drivers to put down their phones and focus on the road.
“California’s distracted driving laws have been saving lives for a decade now,” said former State Senator Joe Simitian, who authored the state’s first hands-free and no-texting law. His bill was signed into law in 2006; it took effect July 2008.
Since that time, additional distracted driving laws have been enacted.
“Every day, somewhere in California, someone is sitting down to dinner with their family who wouldn’t have made it through the day without these laws on the books,” Simitian said. “That’s tremendously gratifying.”
But distracted driving remains a serious safety challenge in California. Officers have issued hundreds of thousands of citations over the past three years to drivers texting or calling on a hand-held cell phone.
Preliminary 2017 data show nearly 22,000 drivers were involved in distracted driving collisions in California, but that is a decline from the more than 33,000 drivers involved in distracted driving collisions in 2007, according to the La Mesa Police Department.
“Smart phones are part of everyone’s lives now. Texting, phone calls and posting on social media are nearly addicting,” said La Mesa police Lt. Brian Stoney. “But doing these things can have deadly consequences while driving on our city’s streets. Changing these dangerous habits will help make our roadways safer for everyone.”
The La Mesa Police Department offers the following safety tips:
-If you receive a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location (never on a freeway). Once you are safely off the road, it is safe to text.
-Designate your passenger as your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
-Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.
-Cell phone use can be habit-forming. Struggling to not text and drive? Put the cell phone in the trunk or back seat of your vehicle until you arrive at your final destination.
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