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Distracted driving citations send message, police say

Sergeant says 491 driver citations in April were `definitely sending a message.¿

May 11, 2011|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com
  • Glendale motor officer Bateman writes a talk on handheld cell phone citation for this motorist as the Glendale Police Department held a zero-tolerance day for motorists who are driving and talking or texting on a hand-held cell phone on Monday, April 4, 2011. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
Glendale motor officer Bateman writes a talk on handheld…

GLENDALE — Glendale police issued nearly 500 citations last month to motorists who were talking or texting on hand-held cell phones.

Police were out in force last month as part of a statewide crackdown on distracted driving, issuing 491 citations to drivers who were illegally using cell phones while behind the wheel on city streets.

“We are definitely sending a message,” Glendale Police Sgt. Dennis Smith said.

For the first two weeks in April, law enforcement agencies cited more than 20,000 people statewide for using hand-held cell phones while driving, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.

The final results for the number of citations issued wouldn’t be completed until at least later this week, agency spokesman Chris Cochran said.

The inaugural Distracted Driving Awareness campaign will likely become the agency’s annual traffic safety focus in April, he said.

More than 275 police agencies participated in the campaign, which Cochran said focused on educating the public and enforcing the state’s cell-phone laws.

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Increased enforcement and campaign exposure “brought the message of the issue way more forward than where it was before,” he said.

Traffic safety officials said they have geared the distracted-driving campaign to be similar to other successful public education efforts, including one aimed at increasing seat-belt use among drivers and passengers.

Last year, Glendale police were awarded a $254,795 grant with the first-ever funding component dedicated to curbing distracted driving.

Officers began targeting distracted drivers in February during grant-funded enforcement operations and cited more than 400 motorists for distracted driving before the April campaign even began.

Glendale officers are planning similar campaigns for this summer, Smith said.

The first citation for texting or talking on the cell phone while driving costs $159. Subsequent tickets cost $279.

 
 

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