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445 Tickets in El Cerrito Crackdown on Distracted Driving

El Cerrito police issued 445 citations in April for texting, using a cell phone or engaging in other forms of distracted driving during the "It's Not Worth It" campaign in April. Statewide, 57,000 citations were reported for the month.

El Cerrito police issued an average of about 15 citations per day for distracted driving in April during the second annual statewide crackdown on texting and cell-phone use by motorists, police said Thursday.

El Cerrito police Sgt. Shawn Maples said 445 citations were issued in El Cerrito in this year's .

Statewide, local law enforcement agencies and the California Highway Patrol issued more than 57,000 tickets in April for using a hand-held phone or texting while driving, according to a press release from the CHP and the state Office of Traffic Safety. An additional 3,800 citations were given out for other distracted driving violations, the agencies said. The total from the previous April, the first year of the effort, was 52,000 tickets, the agencies said.

El Cerrito issued 600 citations in April of 2011, a higher number than this year, Maples said. The number was down this year "due to the retirement of officer and the fact that another traffic officer was on vacation," he said.

A first-time citation will cost a minimum of $159, with a second violation at least $279, according to the state news release.

The CHP and Office of Traffic Safety urged the following steps to avoid distracted driving:

Following a few uncomplicated steps would go a long way in keeping you safe from distracted driving:

  • Put your cell phone out of reach when you get in the car so you won’t be tempted to use it.
  • Mention on your outgoing voicemail message that you can’t answer because you might be driving.
  • Don’t call or text anyone when there is a good chance that they may be driving.
  • If you must call or text, pull into a parking space.
  • The ability to safely multi-task while driving is myth.
  • Never eat, groom, program a GPS, check Facebook, run an app, read or otherwise allow your full attention to leave the task of safely driving.
John Stashik May 18, 2012 at 06:25 AM
Forget about it. No gizmo or any amount of traffic tickets will solve this problem. You are on your own out there. Be as safe as possible. People want to text while driving and they are stupid and dangerous. Life on the road these days. Isn't technology great?
Jason Schwager May 18, 2012 at 06:40 PM
OH YES....No one could have said it better. I'm for the honorary Michael O'Connor Zombie Driver Act of 2012 that should be drafted and passed henceforth to stomp out all drivers Mr. O'Connor says are "smiling, laughing, yapping," To that should be added, no talking with passengers, no talk radio listening, and no radio knob adjusting. No asparagus cooking either. We must get serious.
Another EC Mom May 18, 2012 at 11:11 PM
I've noticed this too. An awful lot of EC police officers driving and talking on their cellphones. If it's illegal, it should be for everyone. EC cops - you need to set a good example.
Tamara June 18, 2012 at 05:16 PM
When I worked as a tour guide, at 25 years of age, I drove a 15 passenger van and simultaneously held a microphone and narrated in two languages. I know I can talk and drive. However, I know that most people cannot, so I will humbly pay my $159.
Billie Crusoe June 18, 2012 at 07:10 PM
You're absolutely right Paul D!! When drivers are breaking the law by driving and smiling, they MUST be guilty of other law-breaking. Lets prevent crime by apprehending them before they commit one. That's it! The cops can pull them over and, like one account, break the drivers arms. That will stop all those smiling drivers. Think of how many other crimes it will prevent, like picking up TWO toothpicks upon leaving a restaurant instead of one. When cops see someone laughing behind the wheel, they can arrest ticket him and while stopped search his car, his Facebook account. If he's a minority that's crime enough right there. You're so Right Paul D.

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