Calif. cops target talking, texting drivers

By John F. Hill
The Press Enterprise

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Jeremiah Hayes got out of it but thousands of other Californians will likely be ticketed this month for talking or texting on their phones while driving.

The California Highway Patrol and 225 local police agencies are in the midst of a cellphone crackdown. The California Office of Traffic Safety said that, as part of its Distracted Driving Awareness Month, officers will hold "zero tolerance" days across the state.

In Murrieta on Wednesday, that meant three motorcycle traffic officers parked behind trees at a gas station on Murrieta Hot Springs Road, waiting for violators.

They didn't wait long, pulling over seven cars in about 30 minutes before it started raining.

Hayes, a 27-year-old Temecula resident, was among them. He convinced the officer to let him go by claiming - untruthfully, he later admitted - that he was briefly changing a song on the phone's digital music player and hadn't been chatting.

The former Verizon cellphone salesman said he understood the dangers of talking while driving, but thought the fines were too steep.

"I think some people can be on the phone and some people can't," he said. "I see people on the phone and they're completely oblivious."

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit research group funded by the insurance industry, says drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to cause injury.

A cellphone ticket costs $159 for the first violation. A second citation is $279.

California is one of eight states to have banned talking on a hand-held device while driving. It is one of 30 to have laws against texting while driving.

The California Highway Patrol writes more than 10,000 cellphone tickets each month, according to the Office of Traffic Safety.

When the law was passed last year, it seemed to lessen talking-while-driving, Froboese said. But as months have worn on, people seemed to forget about it.

In one instance, Froboese said, a man who was talking on his cellphone tried to disguise the fact by dropping the device and pretending to be scratching his face. The phone bounced off his left arm and out the window.

Froboese said he decided not to give the driver a ticket: "I figured, you know, he lost his phone, the next car ran over it, I'll let that one go."

Copyright 2011 The Press Enterprise, Inc.

Copyright © 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved
Terms and Conditions Privacy Policy

Recommended for you

Copyright © 2022 Police1. All rights reserved.