Valley-wide cellphone crackdown underway

FRESNO, Calif.

Lahood's comments come as a 48-hour crackdown gets underway on Valley drivers who use their cell phones.

If you take a look around it's obvious drivers aren't following the law. The CHP and other agencies hope the campaign sends a strong message to drivers, especially teenagers.

You've all seen them - talking or texting as they drive on city streets or busy highways. Obviously these people don't seem to think the law applies to them. But if you continue to drive while distracted, your chances of getting caught this week are high. Officers are out in force looking for violators.

The California Highway Patrol is partnering with other agencies to enforce the cell phone zero tolerance campaign.

CHP Asst. Chief, Willie Godinez said, "It's an unsafe practice. It's unacceptable and these traffic collisions are preventable."

Distracted driving is a dangerous practice. A government report says 5,474 people died in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2009. 448-thousand others were injured.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said, "What is happening is a person's attention is diverted from where it should be on the roadway to that device and unfortunately people are being seriously injured and even killed as a result of that."

People like Lauren Kent of Clovis welcome the crackdown on those who don't use hands-free devices.

"I see some people wearing the headsets but I also catch a lot of people who sometimes may or may not be paying attention to driving, who are holding their phone right here," said Kent.

Authorities say it's especially important parents talk to their teenagers about the dangers of using a cell phone while driving. The fine for a first offense is $20.00. $50.00 for subsequent violations.

The crackdown on drivers who text or talk lasts through midnight tomorrow.

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