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Survey notes illegal-texting tendencies

Officers count up how many drivers are breaking the law with their phones.

January 22, 2011|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Standing on a downtown street corner, Glendale Police Officer Mathew Bolton spotted at least 12 motorists illegally using a cell phone — and all within 60 seconds.

The count was part of an undercover survey Wednesday on Brand Boulevard and California Avenue of distracted drivers, in which roughly 10% of motorists were spotted doing something illegal while at the wheel.

Dressed in regular clothes, Bolton stood on the corner and yelled out "texting," "phone" and "talking" at a rapid pace as another officer noted the results.

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"I just look for the hands. The big thing is the hands," Bolton said.

Bolton pointed out a motorist who was using an earpiece to talk on the phone while driving.

"That's what we want people to do is to use their Bluetooths," he said.

Offenders weren't cited as part of the survey that will help assess Glendale's traffic safety issues.

That day, Bolton and three other traffic officers counted 800 vehicles in two surveys, of which 61 motorists were illegally talking on a cell phone and 24 were texting.

Another driver was seen with a dog on her lap.

The surveys were covered by a $254,795 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety.

Distracted-driving surveys in December produced similar results.

To clamp down on the number of distracted-driving-related collisions in the city, the Police Department launched its public education campaign Driven 2 Distraction in November.

The campaign has been focused on educating residents about traffic safety, city engineering and targeted enforcement operations in collision-prone areas.

Police officials hope the surveys provide them with a better understanding of local driving habits, Glendale Police Lt. Gary Montecuollo said.

"Obviously, the public safety of the people in our community is very, very important," he said.

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