Cops to crack down on distracted drivers

Cops to crack down on distracted drivers
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Each year, distracted driving kills thousands of people across the country and hundreds of thousands more are injured in crashes involving distracted drivers.

If you're among the many drivers who either texts or talks on a handheld cell phone while driving, police are out to get you.

"This is going to be a hot issue for law enforcement, because we know that it causes accidents, we know it causes fatalities," said Brian Smith, assistant chief for the Bakersfield office of the California Highway Patrol.

Officers are cracking down this April during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Throughout the month, and after, 18 different law enforcement groups in Kern County will conduct "zero tolerance" enforcements, putting out extra units looking for violators, said Smith.

It was evident on Monday. In less than six hours, one Bakersfield police officer had issued 24 citations in the downtown area to drivers who were talking on handheld cell phones.

"I got caught, what can I say?" said one driver who had been pulled over on Truxtun Avenue and did not want to be identified.

"Pulling over (to talk on a cell phone) is unpractical when you have 100 errands to run in an hour," he said.

A ticket can be costly. After added fees, a first offense will cost drivers $159. A subsequent ticket will cost $279.