Distracted driving, “It’s not worth it.”
On July 1, 2008, Senate Bill 1613 went into effect establishing California’s Hands-free Cell Phone law, making it illegal to use a hand held cell phone while operating a motor vehicle on a highway. Unfortunately, driving around Santa Cruz County, you might feel like it is June 30, 2008, all over again. Frequently, we see our fellow motorists have narrow escapes, make dangerous maneuvers, or needlessly hold up traffic. The cause of this dangerous behavior is no surprise, as you approach the offending vehicle, you see the driver gleefully smiling at their lap, or having a spirited conversation with themselves.
Whether it is an incoming call, a text message, your GPS, passengers, or the need to pluck your eyebrows, we live in a world where things constantly vie for our attention. Often, drivers give in to temptation and attempt to multi task behind the wheel of a vehicle. This decision creates a dangerous game of Russian roulette. According to The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), collisions involving distracted drivers claimed the lives of 3,331 people nationally. Additionally, 387,000 people sustained injuries because of distracted driving.
These statistics may come as a surprise but a driver, using a cell phone, is 4 times more likely to be involved in a collision than a driver focused on the task of driving.
Next month is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Throughout the month, Santa Cruz CHP officers will focus their efforts and attempt to reduce the number of motorists driving distracted. Using collaborative enforcement efforts with allied agencies and unique public educational programs, such as Impact Teen Drivers and Start Smart, we will work to increase awareness, not of the law, but awareness of the risks and often-tragic consequences of distracted driving.
During April 2013’s Distracted Driver Awareness Campaign, Santa Cruz CHP Officers issued 1,361 citations to distracted drivers. The total for the entire year, 4,533, is even more alarming.
Santa Cruz CHP urges drivers to avoid becoming a statistic, stay focused on the priority: Driving safely. When you consider the consequences, the message is clear: “It’s not worth it.”