LANCASTER – The Lancaster Station has joined law enforcement agencies across the state in cracking down on illegal cell phone use and texting violations as part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April.
“Our officers take distracted driving very seriously,” said Lancaster Station Captain Bob Jonson. “If you haven’t heeded all the safety messaging to put down your phone and just drive, be forewarned. Is that text message or cell phone call really worth $159?”
A ticket for violating either the hands free or the no texting law costs a minimum of $159, and subsequent tickets cost $279.
On April 1, Lancaster Station joined hundreds of police and sheriff departments, plus the California Highway Patrol, in conducting ‘zero tolerance’ distracted driving enforcement operations.
Distracted driving joins speeding and alcohol as leading factors in fatal and serious injury crashes. Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. Younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years of age have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.
Additionally, studies show that texting while driving can delay a driver’s reaction time just as severely as having the blood alcohol content of a legally drunk driver.
“Changing the dangerous, illegal habit of using hand-held cell phones or texting while driving isn’t easy,” said Office of Traffic Safety Director Christopher J. Murphy. “But recent studies show that California’s cell and texting laws have made a big difference – cutting deaths by nearly half. But half is not enough.”
Studies show that there is no difference in the risks between hands-free and hand-held cell phone conversations. Both can result in “inattention blindness,” which occurs when the brain isn’t seeing what is clearly visible because the driver’s focus is on the phone conversation and not on the road.
The Lancaster Station offers simple measures drivers can take to minimize distractions in the vehicle:
- Turn your phone off or put it out of reach before starting the car.
- Alert callers that you are unable to take calls when driving by changing your voicemail message.
- Make it a point not to call or text anyone who may be driving, such as during the commute to and from work or school, especially parents calling teen drivers.
- If you do need to make an important call or respond to a text message, pull over to a safe place to do so.
- If going cold turkey is too much of a stretch and you just can’t turn your phone off, consider using one of the available mobile phone apps that holds calls and incoming texts.
“The vast majority of calls and texts you send or receive everyday are never important enough to put yourself or others in harm’s way,” said Murphy. “Were any really worth a $159 ticket – or worse, a crash, injury or death?”
(Information via press release from LASD Lancaster Station.)