Distracted Driving Zero Tolerance Enforcement Operation NR121151SF

April 2, 2012

Los Angeles: As part of this month’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign, the Los Angeles Police Department will have directed officers to have a “zero tolerance” to those commuters texting or operating hand-held cell phones.  Violators who break the law and place themselves and others in danger will be cited.  The minimum cost of a ticket is $159 and subsequent tickets costing at least $279.

Distracted driving is a serious traffic safety concern that puts everyone on the road at unnecessary danger.  As a result, law enforcement agencies across California are increasingly cracking down on drivers who illegally use their cell phone and text.  This April there will be a zero tolerance policy by over 225 local agencies including the LAPD and CHP.

“We take the issue of distracted driving very seriously.” said Lieutenant Katona, Traffic Coordination Section. “The improper use of a cell phone and texting while driving is such a serious concern that we are directing officers to have zero tolerance.  Is that text message or cell phone call really worth $159?”

Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to be involved in serious traffic collision that will result in injuries.  Younger and inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal traffic collisions.  Furthermore, studies have shown 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.  These studies have shown that the use of a cell phone while driving results in “inattention blindness” which occurs when the brain isn’t seeing what is clearly visible because the drivers’ focus is on the phone conversation and not on the road.  

“Turn off your phone and put it out of reach as you get into the car,” said Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety.  “Think before you call or text someone.  If there is a chance they may be driving, let it wait.  It’s not worth it.”

MEDIA NOTES: To schedule an interview regarding Distracted Driving and programs in California, please contact Chris Cochran, California Office of Traffic Safety at (916) 509-3063 or via email at ccochran@ots.ca.gov.  If you have questions regarding LAPD’s enforcement activities, please contact Officer Don Inman, TCS, at 213-486-0703.