Catherine Singer talks on a cell phone while pulling into traffic June 2, 2003 in San Clemente, California.
It is a dangerous predicament: the cell phone buzzes while driving and try as we might, we just can’t resist the urge to check to see who is texting.
The California Highway Patrol began cracking down on those phone-users nearly two weeks ago in a focused enforcement on distracted drivers.
“We are looking for everything that is going to distract a driver,” said CHP officer Ming Hsu. “Everything from the radio, to applying makeup, to drinking coffee distracts the driver. We’ve had people admit to shaving while driving and driving with their knees. Everything that is going to affect your driving we are targeting.”
CHP reported issuing nearly 150,000 citations to motorists statewide last year and hopes that its first focused enforcement in Los Angeles will lower violators.
“This is the first one we are having locally, so we had no baseline to go off of,” said Hsu.
Hsu said the CHP is specifically trying to educate young drivers on the dangers of being distracted.
“Teens are so engrossed in social life we have make sure they understand the risks to themselves and others,” said Hsu. “We’ve had a high teen fatality rate from distracted driving.”
The “Impact Teen Drivers” program was started by the California Association of Highway Patrolmen (CAHP) in 2008, reaching out to high school students across America to warn them of the dangers of distracted driving.
The CHP’s focused enforcement began Se
pt. 5 and lasts until Sept. 19. During those two weeks local divisions each spent two days focusing on distracted driving enforcement, said Hsu. CHP plans on gathering the statistics and using them in future targeted enforcements in hopes to curtail the problematic driving practices.
"Driving while distracted can be serious, even life-threatening,” said Southern Division Chief Steve Beeuswaert in a statement. “Anything that diverts the driver's eyes of attention from the roadway, for even 1-2 seconds, could result in tragedy.”
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