Closer Look at the Hands Free Crackdown

July 14, 2008 7:47:50 PM PDT
Between 10:45 and 11:45 in the morning, our camera caught 13 drivers breaking the new cell phone law at the intersection of Shaw and Blackstone.As you can see in this video, one man quickly moved his phone away from his ear after looking toward our camera. Even though the law specifically says hands free, Howard Hodge told us he didn't realize he was doing anything wrong. Driver Howard Hodge said: "I was using my speaker phone, walkie talkie. But I wasn't using my phone."

Since the cell phone law took effect two weeks ago, the highway patrol has ticketed more than 25-hundred drivers statewide. Fresno Police have written around 150 citations, Clovis has ticketed 47 drivers, and Visalia police have handed out 10 tickets.

The head of Clovis' Traffic Unit says so far, so good. Sergeant Alex Campos said: "I've been surprised, pleasantly surprised, by the high number of motorists in compliance with the new law." But Sergeant Campos say it's going to take a lot more than a ticket and 20 dollar fine before even more drivers get the message. Campos said: "Folks create a muscle memory reaction to things in their lives. This is one muscle reaction that when it's prompted, people just react and just grab their phone and put it to their ear without even thinking."

Drivers like Eddie Ortega say with some stores selling out of hands free devices, complying with the new cell phone law isn't all that easy. Driver Eddie Ortega said: "It's finding a blue tooth headset that works good, and putting budget aside to afford one, and remembering, remembering to follow the law." And since old habits die hard, Clovis Police say they're planning more stepped up enforcement in the weeks ahead, as more drivers get the hang of this new law.
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