C.H.P. cracks down on cell phone use while driving

HANFORD, Calif.

Tuesday the California Highway Patrol completed a 2-day sting targeting drivers talking on their cell phones and texting. Our Action News cameras followed them along as they tried to let drivers know that using your cell phone while driving is not only dangerous but will get you a ticket.

One Hanford driver was slapped with a ticket for driving while talking on her cell phone. Officers say she was so distracted, she didn't realize she drove right by a C.H.P. officer who then followed her for several minutes with his lights on as she pulled into a drive-thru line.

"I was behind her for a couple minutes and she never reacted," said C.H.P. Officer Joseph Machado.

The officer eventually got her attention when he got out of his patrol car and stood outside her window.

"I had to physically get out of my car, walk up to her door, and contacted her at her drivers side window, at which time she was still on the phone -- still had the phone up to her left ear, still having a conversation," said Machado.

C.H.P. officers Valley-wide conducted a 2-day sting to stop people driving while texting or talking on the phone without a hands-free device. Officer Jerry Pierce says over the last few years-- distracted driving has become more of a problem. "Inattention is involved in more collisions than we can really... tabulate"

On Monday, Hanford's C.H.P. division issued 28 tickets for illegal cell phone use and 4 for texting while driving. Officer say cell phone texting is harder to catch but is the most dangerous.

One teenager was caught driving and texting. "I'm probably not going to do it again even though my girlfriend -- I just got my license yesterday she was like 'Don't text and drive!' and then I'm doing it," said Duncan Jimenez from Hanford.

The fine for first-time offenders is $150. The more you're caught using your cell phone while driving the higher those fines get. Officers believe that those fines are preventing some people from distracted driving.

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