SPD keeps an eye out for violators during Distracted Driving Awareness Month

The Susanville Police Department advises April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and a time to put safety in the driver’s seat.

The SPD will be actively looking for drivers throughout the month who are in violation of the state’s hands-free cell phone law.

According to the 2023 California statewide public opinion survey, more than 74 percent of drivers surveyed said that distracted driving because of texting was their biggest safety concern.

In 2021, at least 140 people were killed in distracted driving traffic crashes in California.

The numbers are likely underreported because law enforcement officers may not always be able to tell that distraction was a factor in a crash.

Under current law, drivers are not allowed to hold a phone or electronic communications device while operating a vehicle, even when stopped at a red light. This includes talking, texting or using an app. Using a handheld cell phone while driving is punishable by a fine, and violating the hands-free law for a second time within 36 months of a prior conviction for the same offense will result in a point being added to a driver’s record.

If you have an important phone call, text or email, or are in a situation with other distractions, such as looking up directions, pull over to a safe parking spot to complete the task without putting yourself and others at risk. Other distractions can be eating, grooming, reaching for something that fell on the floor, putting on or taking off clothing, talking with passengers, or children in the back seat.

Funding for distracted driving enforcement is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.