California Highway Patrol officers will be out in full force next week to crack down on drivers caught text messaging or talking on cell phones that aren’t hands-free devices.
“Driving while distracted can be serious, even life-threatening,” says Southern Division Chief Steve Beeuwsaert. “Anything that diverts the driver’s eyes or attention from the roadway, even for 1-2 seconds, could result in tragedy.”
Between September 5th and September 19th, the CHP will be conducting focused enforcement on distracted driving violations in Los Angeles County, according to a recent press announcement. The focused enforcement and education efforts aim to reduce the number of violations still being committed.
Driver distraction remains a problem in California, says the CHP. In 2010, officers issued nearly 150,000 citations statewide to motorists who were in violation of the hands-free law.
Violators of the hands-free law could soon face harsher penalties, as well. The California Legislature recently voted in favor of Senate Bill 28, a measure that would increase fines from $20 to $50. Fine amounts, plus penalties could top out at $310 after court costs. Repeat offenders could be faced with fines topping out at nearly $530 and be charged with a moving violation, resulting in one point being added to their licenses. Senate Bill 28 also makes it illegal for bicyclists to use handheld phones.