Local police cracking down on distracted driving

POSTED: 12:46 PM PDT Apr 03, 2013 
Texting and driving

Officers in Palm Springs and La Quinta will be cracking down on drivers violating cell phone laws today as part of April's Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign.

Today and on April 16, deputies in La Quinta will be "actively ticketing" motorists who text or operate hand-held cell phones, sheriff's Cpl. Don Olson said. Palm Springs police will do the same throughout the month, according to Sgt. Mike Kovaleff.

"We all know that talking on our cell phones while driving is distracting but that doesn't stop some people from continuing to do it," Palm Springs Police Chief Alberto Franz said. "This effort is intended to educate our community about the dangers of cell phone use while driving. We hope that once people see the statistics and realize the danger involved, they will change their driving habits to help protect themselves, their families and others on the road."

Local agencies throughout California and the California Highway Patrol are participating in the campaign, themed "It's Not Worth It!"

In California, hundreds of people have been killed and thousands seriously injured in collisions that involved at least one distracted driver, officials said. Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves, while younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. Studies also show that texting while driving can delay a driver's reaction time as much as having a blood-alcohol content of a legally drunk driver, according to authorities.

Tickets cost a minimum $159.