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Newport Beach Police Department
Thursday March 30th, 2017 :: 02:17 p.m. PDT
Community

Press Release: Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Working Together to Stop Distracted Driving

April is recognized as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.  In California, the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the Newport Beach Police Department, and other local law enforcement agencies are joining with community partners throughout the state to make the roads safer by highlighting the dangers of distracted driving, especially as related to cell phones.
 
“Law enforcement would rather see everyone off their cell phones than hand out a lot of tickets,” said Rhonda Craft, director of the Office of Traffic Safety.  “Take care of calling, texting, setting your GPS and everything else before you hit the street.”
 
Lawmakers agree that distracted driving continues to be a growing problem among California motorists.  Assembly Bill 1785 went into effect on January 1, requiring all drivers in California to keep their cell phones out of their hands while operating a motor vehicle.  Under the new law, a driver may activate or deactivate a feature or function of the cell phone or wireless communication device by swiping or tapping its screen, but only if the device is properly mounted (or not being held in the driver’s hand).  Specific information on the new law can be found at www.ots.ca.gov.
 
In April, OTS will begin a new public awareness campaign throughout the state, emphasizing how the new law makes virtually all handheld cell phone activity illegal - including talking, texting, and using apps.  The campaign aims to end distracted driving through education and to raise awareness about the associated dangers of these activities.  The goal is to change motorists’ behaviors and save lives, not just in the month of April, but year-round.
 
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 3,477 people were killed and an estimated 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle collisions involving distracted drivers in 2015.  That is a 9% increase in fatalities as compared to the previous year.
 
The Newport Beach Police Department will join other law enforcement agencies throughout the state to provide educational experiences as well as zero-tolerance enforcement efforts to discourage distracted driving.  This month, our officers will have a special emphasis on enforcing all cell phone and distracted driving laws.  The goal of Distracted Driving Awareness month is voluntary compliance by all drivers, but sometimes officer intervention – and citations – are necessary to communicate the importance of distraction-free driving.
 
The Newport Beach Police Department is deploying extra officers with grant-funded resources throughout the month in city locations with higher numbers of traffic collisions.  Violators will be stopped and cited, with fines set at $162 for first-time offenders.  The campaign is funded by a grant from the California Officer of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Newport Beach Police Department
870 Santa Barbara Dr
Newport Beach, CA 92660

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