A California Highway Patrol cruiser. Photo by John Schreiber.
A California Highway Patrol cruiser. Photo by John Schreiber.

A new California cell-phone law for drivers along with a national campaign may inspire more motorists to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.

Basically, all hand-held cell phone activity is now illegal, from talking to texting to using apps, according to Sgt. Jimmie Pitts of the El Monte Police Traffic Safety Bureau.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and police officers are focusing their attention on illegal cell phone usage among drivers.

“Law enforcement would rather see everyone off their cell phones than hand out a lot of tickets,” California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) Director Rhonda Craft said. “Take care of calling, texting, setting your GPS … before you hit the street.”

OTS, in coordination with the El Monte Police Department, California Highway Patrol and various community partners throughout the state, are working together to spread the word that distracted driving is a growing problem among California’s motorists.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,477 people were killed and another 391,000 were injured in accidents involving distracted drivers in 2015, representing a 9 percent increase compared to the previous year.

And, it’s against the law.

Assembly Bill 1785, which went into effect Jan. 1, requires all drivers in California to keep their cell phones out of their hands when operating a motor vehicle. Under the new law, drivers may activate or deactivate a feature or function of a cell phone or other mobile communication device by swiping or tapping only if the device is properly mounted and not held in the driver’s hand.

“The campaign aims to end distracted driving through education and raise awareness about the associated dangers,” Pitts said. “The goal is to change motorist behaviors and save lives, not just in the month of April but year-round.”

In El Monte, drivers can expect to see increased enforcement to discourage distracted driving. Pitts said the goal is to have drivers voluntary comply, but sometimes citations are necessary.

–City News Service

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.