CHP cracking down on distracted drivers

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.