In an effort to bring awareness to the problem of distracted drivers, the Los Angeles Police Department is participating in California’s first Distracted Driving Awareness Month this April.
Enforcing a policy of zero tolerance against violators, the LAPD will cite those caught breaking the hands-free or no texting law. Violators will be fined $159 for the first offense and $279 for any additional tickets.
The LAPD has joined forces with more than 225 local agencies and 103 California Highway Patrol Area Commands for the month-long effort.
According to the National Safety Council, which supports the campaign, every year 1.6 million car accidents are caused by drivers using their handheld or hands-free cell phones to text and drive.
"We recognize that convincing drivers to refrain from using cell phones or texting while driving isn't easy," Office of Traffic Safety Director Christopher J. Murphy stated in a release. "It's very difficult to resist the urge to check an incoming text or answer a cell phone call. That's why we are stepping up enforcement and public awareness efforts.”
Here are some tips from the LAPD on what drivers can do to help curb the use of mobile devices while driving:
- Turn off your phone or put it out of reach before starting the car.
- Alert callers that you are unable to take calls when driving by changing your voice mail message.
- Make it a point not to call or text anyone who may be driving, such as during their commute to and from work or school. This applies particularly to parents calling teen drivers.
- If you do need to make an important call or respond to a text message, pull over to a safe place to do so.
- If going "cold turkey" is too difficult and you just can't turn off your phone, consider using one of the available mobile phone apps that holds calls and incoming texts.
- Use common sense when you’re behind the wheel and focus on driving.