CHP Cracks Down on Distracted Teen Drivers

Current statistics report that 80 percent of car crashes involve some kind of driver distraction

By Monica Garske
|  Friday, Jan 25, 2013  |  Updated 6:40 PM PDT
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California Highway Patrol officials are cracking down on distracted teenage drivers.

The CHP, along with a group called Impact Teen Drivers, is conducting a year-long, grant-funded project dubbed “Teen Distracted Drivers Education and Enforcement II.”

The campaign aims to raise awareness and education about distracted driving while conducting more distracted driving enforcement operations throughout California.

The focus is to get teenage drivers to stop texting behind the wheel and keep their eyes on the road, making the streets safer for everyone.

According to statistics recently released by the CHP, 80 percent of car crashes involve some kind of driver distraction. Talking or texting on cell phones is the main source of driver distraction.

California drivers age 20 or older were involved in nearly 22,000 distracted driving collisions from Oct. 2009 to Sept. 2010, according to the CHP. As new drivers, teens are at an even greater risk of being involved in distracted driving crashes due to the peer pressures of texting at all times.

The CHP says teenage distracted driving is one of the leading contributors of collisions and near-collisions on roadways.

Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In San Diego, it seems law enforcement is actively cracking down on distracted drivers.

On Jan. 11, police officers issued 42 tickets to drivers in La Mesa who were either talking on their cell phones or texting behind the wheel as part of a six-hour “Traffic Safety Enforcement Program” operation designed to aggressively enforce the state’s distracted driving laws.

Then, on Jan. 12, Chula Vista police conducted their own Distracted Driving Operation. Officers ticketed 35 drivers in the area, 29 of whom were talking on their cell phones while driving and six who were texting behind the wheel.

Ultimately, these statewide and local crackdowns are meant to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on the roadways at the hands of distracted drivers.

According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles website, the base fine for the first texting while driving offense is $20, and $50 for subsequent convictions. With penalty assessments, the DMV says the fine can be more than triple the base fine amount.

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