Drivers traveling through San Clemente’s streets on Saturday, April 15, may notice an increased presence of Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) deputies as part of a dedicated counteraction to distracted driving.
OCSD announced this week that its personnel will focus its attention on those violating California’s cell phone law by utilizing phones through any non-hands-on activity, such as talking, texting, or using other apps. The department wrote in a press release that cell phones are the No. 1 distraction for drivers.
“In this day and age, it is natural instinct to answer the phone or read a text, but the focus for drivers should be on the road,” OCSD said in the release. “Other distractions include eating, grooming, talking to passengers, using GPS, adjusting the radio, taking off a jacket, or reaching for an object on the floor.”
Fines for violating the cell phone law amount to $162 for the first offense and at least $285 for the second.
The enforcement operation is funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), which has a grant program for such activities as distracted driving is one of the organization’s “priority program areas” among alcohol-impaired driving, motorcycle safety and other subjects.
OTS also utilizes sponsored education campaigns, outreach and teen education programs as methods to increase safe driving.
In 2016, 3,450 people were killed in crashes because of distracted drivers, OCSD stated from a report produced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
OCSD’s announcement advised motorists to pull over to a safe area to make an important phone call or adjust their navigation, and to place their phones out of sight to reduce the urge to use them.