Irvine, Calif. (April 9, 2018) – Ten years after “hands-free” became the law, drivers are using their cellphones less frequently, but distracted driving remains a serious safety challenge in California. During Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April, the Irvine Police Department (IPD) is reminding motorists to “Just Drive.”
IPD will join law enforcement throughout the state to step up enforcement and promote awareness efforts by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) to discourage distracted driving. The goal is to increase voluntary compliance by drivers, but sometimes citations are necessary for motorists to understand the consequences of driving distracted.
This Friday, April 13, has been designated a statewide enforcement day, when law enforcement agencies will increase distracted driving enforcement activities. The California Department of Transportation will put distracted driving messages on the changeable message signs on freeways throughout April.
Traffic officers across the state have issued hundreds of thousands of citations over the past three years to those texting or calling on a hand-held cellphone. Recent legislation now makes it illegal to use your smartphone’s apps will driving.
Since 2011, OTS has conducted an observational study of handheld cellphone use every year. “This year’s study on the use of handheld cellphones and texting shows a decrease over past years; however, more work needs to be done to target those who were observed to still be breaking the law,” said OTS Director Rhonda Craft. “The best way to put an end to distracted driving is to educate all Californians about the danger it poses. We will do this through enforcement and education efforts like our new advertising campaign ‘Just Drive,’ reminding drivers to put down their phones and focus on the road.”
Preliminary 2017 data also shows nearly 22,000 drivers were involved in distracted driving collisions in California, a decline from the more than 33,000 drivers involved in distracted driving collisions in 2007, the last full year before the hands-free law went into effect.
Irvine PD 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, but 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.
- Put your cellphone in the trunk or back seat of your vehicle while driving.
Irvine PD is deploying extra traffic officers with grant-funded resources throughout the month in locations with higher numbers of traffic collisions. Violators will be stopped and cited with fines set at $162 for first-time offenders. This campaign is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.