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Cell phone crackdown for distracted drivers scheduled in Glendale

Officers will be out Friday searching for distracted drivers.

May 23, 2013|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com
  • ARCHIVE PHOTO: Glendale Police officer Tim Lindner stops a motorist for using a cell phone while driving on Glendale Avenue, just south of California Avenue, in Glendale on Tuesday, October 5, 2010. Law enforcement plans to stop distracted drivers on Friday.
ARCHIVE PHOTO: Glendale Police officer Tim Lindner stops… (RAUL ROA, Glendale…)

Police plan to step up enforcement activities Friday against motorists using their cell phones while driving. The plan follows last month's distracted-driving crackdown in which more than 400 citations were issued.

Officers assigned to the enforcement operation, which is being funded through a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, will be focused that day on looking only for distracted drivers, Glendale Police Sgt. Harout Bouzikian said.

In April, officers cited 425 motorists for holding their cell phones while behind the wheel, he said. That same month, Glendale police also organized five grant-funded operations aimed at distracted driving.

More than 57,000 drivers statewide were cited for talking or texting on cell phones during the enforcement period, according to the traffic agency. The monthly average is 36,000.

Violators were often looking at their phones for messages or using applications, not realizing that those actions are also violations, Bouzikian added.

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"I think they think that's OK," he said.

The same behavior among motorists was spotted during a cell phone observational survey the traffic agency performed in March.

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, the percentage of motorists holding cell phones to their ears dropped from 2.4% in 2012 to 1.6% this year.

The agency also observed fewer motorists were using their cell phones at one time this year.

"We are hoping that this signals a continuing downturn," said the agency's spokesman Chris Cochran.

Drivers, he said, also don't understand that holding a cell phone while it's on speaker is also a violation.

"Hands-free means just that," he said.

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Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.

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