Let’s talk about text, baby: Distracted Driving Awareness Month tips
TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the Truckee Police Department, in cooperation with law enforcement agencies nationwide, is participating in educational and enforcement activities related to distracted driving.
The overall goal of the increased enforcement is to convince drivers of the dangers of distracted driving and reduce the number of people impacted by this risky behavior.
The “It’s Not Worth It!” theme of this national campaign emphasizes that a phone call or text isn’t worth a tragedy.
Thousands die needlessly each year because people continue to use their cell phones while driving.
Truckee PD hopes to encourage safe behavior for our local drivers by enhancing enforcement activities specifically related to cell phone use during the month of April.
According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, behind-the-wheel cellphone use can significantly reduce the brain functions needed for safe driving, sometimes up to 37 percent.
The cellphone conversation can cause such a reduction in proper brain function that good drivers are transforming seemingly into inattentive “zombies” behind the wheel.
Additionally, our young drivers are the most likely to engage in this unsafe behavior, with 16 percent of all distracted crashes involving drivers under the age of 20.
The urge to read and answer an incoming message when we hear the text sound can be almost overwhelming.
The Office of Traffic Safety is using a message of “Silence the Distraction” in new public service announcements aimed at getting drivers to turn off their phones while driving so they won’t be tempted.
“No text, call, or social media update is worth a crash,” said OTS Director Rhonda Craft. “With an average of less than a second to react to an urgent situation, drivers need to have all their attention on the roadway.”
Truckee PD offers the following tips to avoid becoming distracted from safe driving:
1. Turn off your phone and/or put it out of reach while driving.
2. Include in your outgoing message that you can’t answer while you are driving.
3. Don’t call or text anyone at a time when you think they may be driving.
4. Adjust controls and set your song playlist before you set out on the road.
5. Stay alert and keep your mind on the task of driving — often after a long day at work or a not-so-restful night’s sleep, people’s minds can wander when behind the wheel. If you find yourself daydreaming — clear your head and focus on the road.
In 2012, the California Department of Motor Vehicles reported nearly 450,000 handheld cellphone and texting convictions, with more than 57,000 tickets issued in April alone.
Law enforcement agencies are committed to ensuring our streets are safe by ticketing anyone found driving while distracted.
The fine for a first time texting or hand-held cell phone violation is $161, with subsequent tickets costing at least $281.
“We’re trying to encourage safe behavior behind the wheel, and that could be anything from a loud radio, failing to signal, or talking on a cellphone. You’re moving several thousand pounds of metal at speed—the consequences of not paying attention can be tragic,” said TPD Traffic Officer Jason Litchie. “You’re risking your life, and lives of others, if you are driving distracted.”
Community members can contact Truckee PD in a variety of ways to report unsafe driving and other criminal behavior.
In any emergency, dial 911 for the fastest and most accurate response. Nixle subscribers can “Text Back” to this message or leave tips through the Nixle website.
This article was submitted to the Sun by the Truckee Police Department. Sign up for Nixle messages at local.nixle.com/truckee-police-dept/ or townoftruckee.com/departments/police.
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