As part of April’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign, the Mill Valley Police Department will be actively ticketing those drivers texting or operating hand-held cell phones from April 3, 2013 through April 16, 2013. Drivers who break the law and place themselves and others in danger will be cited with no warnings. This April, over 225 local agencies in addition to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) will be conducting zero tolerance enforcement. The current minimum ticket cost is $159 with subsequent tickets costing at least $279.
Distracted driving is a serious traffic safety concern that puts everyone on the road at risk. In recent years, thousands have been killed and seriously injured in California as a result of collisions that involved at least one driver who was distracted. Nationally, an estimated 3,331 persons died in 2011 due to distracted driving. As a result, law enforcement across the state, including the Mill Valley Police Department, are increasingly cracking down on cell phone use and texting.
Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into serious-injury crashes. Younger, inexperienced drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. In addition, studies show that texting while driving can delay a driver’s reaction time just as severely as having a blood alcohol content of a legally drunk driver. Studies also show that there is no difference in the risks between hands-free and hand-held cell phone conversations, both of which can result in “inattention blindness” which occurs when the brain isn’t seeing what is clearly visible because the driver’s focus is on conversation not driving.
To avoid a distracted driving ticket or crash, the Mill Valley Police Department offers the following tips:
Ø Turn off your phone and/or put it out of reach while driving
Ø Include in your outgoing message that you can’t answer while you are driving
Ø Don’t call or text anyone at a time when you think they may be driving
The National Safety Council has information on April’s program at http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/Distracted_Driving/Pages/DDAM.aspx
Toyota has a program directly targeted to teens and safe driving that can be accessed at https://www.toyotadrivingexpectations.com/en/Home.aspx