CHP urges drivers to put down that cell phone

FRESNO, Calif.

With National Distracted Driving Awareness Month underway, officers are urging drivers to think about how one action can quickly change lives.

A public safety announcement by the department of transportation is driving home the serious dangers of distracted driving.

California Highway Patrol Officer Johnny Fisher said, "Create more of an awareness of this epidemic because it something that can be prevented."

More than 3,300 people were killed in 2012 in distracted driving crashes.

Officer Johnny Fisher says the California Highway Patrol set up a course at Fresno State, to show the community how one action can change their driving. I even got behind the wheel and on my phone. A combination I learned, that doesn't work.

Fresno State students also took part in the event like Alisha Ramlan. She had some trouble making the turns and says she's learned a powerful lesson.

Ramlan said, "I definitely won't use my phone anymore. I'm a bad driver with it. Even to answer calls, even with it on speaker, it's just distracting."

The highway patrol says they hope this experience will change habits and maybe lives.

Capt. Dave Paris with the California Highway Patrol said, "We all have bad habits, but this is a habit that can result in a dramatic instant that can cost lives. If it's that important that you need to get the phone, pull over."

The California Highway Patrol says events like this just show how distracted we can get behind the wheel. They're urging drivers to put down that phone and not talk or text.

The California Highway Patrol says since the start of April, officers across the Central Valley have issued more than 800 tickets for distracted driving.

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