Local motorists busted for distracted driving

April 22, 2011 8:08:47 PM PDT
A major crackdown is currently under way to send a message to drivers. Tens of thousands have been ticketed for talking on cellphones or texting behind the wheel. It's all part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Texting while driving isn't just illegal, it's dangerous.

"Generally you'll see them on a regular basis, that's why we write so many different citations out there," says CHP Ofc. Shawn Chase, who gave us a look during a ride-along of what officers are seeing up and down the state.

In just two weeks of a month-long crackdown, the California Highway Patrol says it has given 9,732 tickets statewide for driving while texting or using a mobile phone without a hands-free device.

In the Bay Area, the CHP has given out 1,416 tickets. Those CHP numbers do not include the 200 other police agencies around the state taking part in the "Not Worth the Risk" campaign. The California Office of Traffic Safety estimates that combined law enforcement has issued at least 20,000 citations. It also estimates that 9 percent of drivers talk or text on cellphones while they're driving.

"If I look down for two seconds, the car in from of me could be stopped," says Chase.

One of the drivers Chase pulled ever says this is his third ticket for using a mobile device while driving, but that he's learned his lesson now. Chase hopes others have learned their lesson, too.

"I think as this campaign continues to go on for the rest of the month, people are aware that, hey, it's not tolerated because it causes injuries and death," says Chase.

If you get caught with that mobile phone in your hands expect a sting in your wallet, too. Tickets start at $159 for the first offense.

Written and produced by Ken Miguel


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