Distracted driving is such an important safety issue that April is recognized as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In California, Police, Sheriff and CHP officials are joining the Office of Traffic Safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), as well as law enforcement throughout the country, working together to focus on education as well as enforcement.
The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving in an attempt to change behavior and save lives, not just in April but also year-round. The Napa Police Department will conduct focused enforcement on Thursday, April 13th and Saturday, April 22nd in support of this campaign. Although the purpose of the campaign is not to write as many citations as possible, sometimes citations are necessary for drivers to understand the importance of focusing on their driving.
In California, there were 85 people killed in collisions in which distracted driving was a factor in 2015, 87 in 2014, and 84 in 2013. The number of injured victims due to these collisions for the same three-year period shows an increase: 10,078 in 2013, 10,540 in 2014, and 11,262 in 2015.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 71 percent of young people admit to sending a text while driving. Furthermore, 10 percent of all drivers ages 15 to 19 involved in fatal collisions were reported as distracted at the time of the collisions. The NHTSA reports that 3,477 people were killed and an estimated 391,000 injured in motor vehicle collisions involving distracted drivers in 2015. That is a 9 percent increase in fatalities as compared to the previous year.
California drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone or a hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle (VC §23124). Lawmakers agree that distracted driving continues to be a problem among California’s motorists. On January 1, Assembly Bill 1785 went into effect, requiring all California drivers to keep a cell phone out of their hands while operating a motor vehicle. Under the new law, a driver may activate or deactivate a feature or function of the cell phone or wireless communication device by swiping or tapping its screen only if it is mounted or not being held in a driver’s hand.
WHAT IS DISTRACTED DRIVING?
Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:
But, because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.
The California Office of Traffic Safety and the Napa Police Department reminds everyone that best way to end distracted driving is to educate all Americans about the danger it poses.
Sgt Kristofer Jenny, Traffic Sergeant firstname.lastname@example.org (707) 257-9671
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