CHP to step up enforcement for Distracted Driving Awareness Month

CHP to step up enforcement for Distracted Driving Awareness Month

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the California Highway Patrol says it will deploy "high-visibility enforcement operations" throughout the month.

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Last April, state authorities issued more than 57,000 tickets for illegal use of cellphones while driving - $159 for a first-time offense and $279 for additional offenses.

In recent years, hundreds have been killed and thousands seriously injured in California as a result of distracted-driving crashes, the CHP said. Nationally, an estimated 3,331 people died in 2011 as a result of distracted driving.

Anything that diverts a driver's attention from the road is distracted driving, but dangerous incidents of distracted driving have risen greatly with the advent of cellphones, the CHP said.

"Enforcement is just one part of this campaign,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow in a news release. “The larger goal is educating motorists about the dangers of distracted driving and encouraging them to change their behavior behind the wheel. This effort is not about how many citations law enforcement officers can issue, but how many lives are ultimately saved because motorists made the right choice to focus their attention on the road, free of distraction.”