April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

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News Date: 
April 17, 2019

Salinas Police Department Challenges Drivers to ‘silence’ the Distraction

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and Salinas Police Department has joined law enforcement agencies statewide stopping drivers who violate California’s hands-free cell phone law. Salinas Police Department continues to have additional officers on patrol during Distracted Driving Awareness Month looking specifically for drivers on their phones. Last year, Salinas Police Department issued 663 citations to drivers texting, calling or performing another function on their phone.

Distracted driving is dangerous, especially when it involves a cell phone. According to preliminary data from the California Highway Patrol (CHP), 66 people were killed and more than 6,500 injured in 2017 from distracted driving-related crashes. “Cell phones remain one of the top distractions for drivers,” said Salinas Police Department Traffic Sgt. Robert Hampson “Like any bad habit, it can be hard to break, but this habit can have life-altering consequences.”

A 2018 observational survey by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) on driver cell phone use found about 4.5 percent of drivers are still using their cell phone illegally, a nearly 27 percent increase from 2016. “That text or phone call will never be worth losing a life over,” according to Sgt. Hampson. “That is why curbing distracted driving is high on our priority list.” Under the most recent cell phone law that went into effect in 2017, drivers are only permitted to use their phone in a hands-free manner. The phones must be mounted on the dashboard, windshield or center console, and can only be touched once with the swipe or tap of a finger to activate or deactivate a function. First-time offenders face a $162 fine.

If you need to make a call or text someone, pull over and park at a safe location. Struggling to stay off the phone while driving? Put your phone in a place you can’t reach, like the backseat or trunk.

Reach your destination safely by staying focused when you drive.