Sheriff, CHP to target distracted drivers

Beginning Monday, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and California Highway Patrol will crack down on motorists who use their cellphones to talk without hands-free devices or who text while driving.

From Feb. 13 through Feb. 18, sheriff and CHP officers will be conducting zero tolerance enforcements, according to a statement issued by the sheriff’s department.

A ticket for violating either the hands-free or no texting law costs a minimum of $159 for a first offense and $279 or more for subsequent violations.

“`We take distracted driving very seriously,” sheriff’s Lt. David Gilmore said. “Cellphone use and texting while driving is such a serious concern that we are putting deputies and officers on the road to target offenders.’’

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. Younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years of age have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.

In addition, studies show that texting while driving can delay a driver’s reaction time just as severely as having a blood alcohol content of a legally drunk driver. According to the statement from the sheriff’s department, studies show that there is no difference in the risks between hands-free and hand-held cell phone conversations, both of which can result in “inattention blindness,” which occurs when the brain isn’t seeing what is clearly visible because the driver’s focus is on the phone conversation and not on the road,

   
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