78 Percent of Drivers Caught on Phone: CVPD

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month nationwide

More than 100 drivers were cited in Chula Vista Thursday for using their cell phones behind the wheel, the Chula Vista Police Department confirmed.

The citations were issued during the department’s “Distracted Driving Operation” from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

During that six-hour span, officers stopped 140 motorists. Of those, 65 drivers were ticketed for using their cell phone while driving and 45 drivers were cited for texting behind the wheel. One minor was cited for using a cell phone while driving.

The police department said this was the first of five operations this month centered on distracted driving. Other communities in San Diego will conduct their own similar operations too.

In Carlsbad, for instance, police will conduct high-visibility enforcement on April 15 to reduce distracted driving on local streets.

Nationwide, April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to the National Safety Council, though 80 percent of driver think hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone, more than 30 studies show hand-free devices are no safer because the brain remains distracted by the conversation.

The California Office of Traffic Safety says 80 percent of all traffic collision involve distractions of some sort. These crashes claim the lives of nearly 3,000 people nationwide each year.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,154 people were killed on
America’s highways in 2013 in distracted driving crashes.

The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) said there were more than 426,000 handheld cell phone and texting convictions in the state in 2013. More than 57,000 tickets were issued in April alone.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said deputies are cracking down on texting and cell phone use all month long – and beyond – with a “zero tolerance” policy toward drivers caught using a handheld phone.

Those caught will be cited and will face a minimum fine of $161 with subsequent violations being higher, the sheriff’s department said.

Officials said distracted driving accidents can be prevented by following these tips:

  • Never text and drive
  • Turn off your phone when you get behind the wheel
  • Don't text or call someone when you know they are likely to be driving
  • Make a pact with your family, spouse and caregivers never to use the phone with kids in the car
  • No eating or drinking while driving
  • Don't program your GPS, MP3 player or other devices while driving
  • Pull over and stop to read maps
  • No grooming
  • No reading
  • No watching videos
  • If something falls to the floor, pull over before trying to reach it
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