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Lamorinda Drivers Driven to Distraction - Here, Here, and Here

Local law enforcement agencies are cooperating with the California Highway Patrol in a "zero tolerance" crackdown aimed at folks who text and talk while driving. The ones we saw on the road today didn't look all that concerned.

In a decidedly random and non-scientific survey, Patch reporters stationed themselves at three key intersections Monday and counted the number of folks using their cell phones in defiance of an ongoing "" enforcement effort, counting the number of obvious users among random groups of 25 motorists.

Here's what they found:

Lafayette: Mt. Diablo Blvd. at Moraga Road, counter positioned at crosswalk - 6 out of 25 motorists were on the phone with phones or handheld devices in plain view, 1 probable.

Moraga: Saint Mary's Road at Bollinger Canyon, counter positioned in a turnout - 7 out of 25 motorists were dialed in, one lady in a white Tundra so distracted by her call she strayed into oncoming traffic, pulling back into her own lane after oncoming driver hit the horn.

Orinda: Theater Square, counter positioned at the fountain - 4 of 25 drivers were taking calls, 1 probable texter.

Members of the Patch Irregulars said they saw an increased police presence on the road but it is too soon to tell how many, if any, tickets for distracted driving were issued. We'll have those statistics later in the month.

lisa April 05, 2011 at 02:00 AM
No surprise- See it ALL the time. Actually surprised it wasn't higher. What's worse is seeing mothers dropping the kids off to/from school whilst chatting/texting away completely oblivious to OTHER people's children crossing the road in the crosswalks! I do wish I'd see more tickets being issued around the schools in the mornings! St Mary's Road near Stanley Middle School would be a great start!
Brent Donaldson April 05, 2011 at 04:20 PM
As scary as it is frequently seeing a texting/dialing and/or cellphone talking, giganto SUV driving soccer mom careening into oncoming traffic, I have been wondering how is it possible to determine if a motorist is texting or simply dialing a number on a bluetooth enabled and perfectly legal speakerphone? Not that it is without danger to dial a number but I don't believe it is illegal, or is it? Should it be that only voice activated dialing is legal? If not, how is the no texting law enforceable? I suspect most of us have dialed a call while driving. We all know it to be sketchy at best. Answers?
CJ April 05, 2011 at 05:39 PM
I am always curous why the shot at SUV's? Is the act more egregious if it is a Suburban vs a Prius? Some of those mom's and dad's have very valid needs that makes those SUV's very nice to have. Maybe if they were driving one of those (Not So) SMART cars we could just ignore the offender and plow over them with impunity?
Brent Donaldson April 05, 2011 at 05:58 PM
Nothing to do with self-riteous politics of whether one needs an SUV to haul kids, or a Hummer for that matter, just the scary when headed at you factor. Larger vehicles such as SUV's and trucks: have less clearance and consequently a weave is more likely to infringe another lane (think less adeptly parked large vehicle in the tight parking spaces), pack more of a wallop in a collision with the power of twice the mass of smaller vehicles; and are simply scarier when I look up and one is headed at me. Nothing to do with notions of fuel consumption or emissions. I drive a small powerful gas hog.
CJ April 05, 2011 at 06:13 PM
Good enough. I have a seen a decidedly political bias in other media discussions and actual published articles(i.e. SF Chronicle does this in virtually every auto related article) and was always curious as to why this was sooooo important to put out there, so I thought I would ask. As luck would have it , your reasoning makes perfect sense in this context.
BV April 05, 2011 at 06:27 PM
I would guess if you were hit by any car it would not really do you much good so to single out SUV's seems irrelevant...... I'm sure a distracted Prius driver can kill you just as well as an SUV! I think the actions of the driver are more relevant than the type of car.
Brent Donaldson April 05, 2011 at 07:46 PM
sheesh, this entire thread has been distracted by the color commentary related to personal experience and is way off the pt of the comment; is there a distinction between dialing and texting? should there be?
lisa April 05, 2011 at 08:19 PM
I personally don't believe dialing is quite the same as texting. Texting takes physical focus off the road as well as mental distraction, whereas dialing seems to have the equivalent of changing a radio station (a single button- not much thought involved). Anyway, I don't understand why so many people refrain from just pulling over. I lived in Europe for several years where you'd constantly see cars pulled over with the drivers texting/making phone calls. It's so rare here-people are just too self absorbed with their own wants/needs. Perhaps if the police were more vigilant and the fines were far higher then the rampant problem might be lessened. Americans for some reason just don't take it as seriously as drunk driving (which has been proven to have the same outcome). There were several very dramatic and gory public service announcements in Europe and seemed to have a huge impact on people's opinions. Here it is---http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMYKXSPgaIw
lisa April 05, 2011 at 08:24 PM
oops, messed up the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMYKXSPgaIw
Orinda mom April 05, 2011 at 09:27 PM
I frequently see parents chatting on the phone while their children are in the car. Once saw a mother on Highway 24 texting away, with her 10-year-old daughter riding shotgun, also texting. Those kids will grow up thinking that's the way you should drive. Not sure I want to be near them after they get their licenses and before they've had their first "wake-up" accident. Parents, your kids are always watching your driving. Even toddlers will feel whether the car is being driven smoothly or you're a jackrabbit/slam on the brakes/swerve into other lanes driver. Please, set a good example! Remember there is no driver's ed in schools any more, and there are already enough drivers on the road who never had a real lesson in driving.
Tom Chesterman April 05, 2011 at 10:09 PM
I commute on a motorcycle frequently, which puts me at a perfect height to see whether the drivers are on the phone - and they are on the phone all too frequently. My own count on 24 in the afternoon runs about the same as the survey.
CJ April 05, 2011 at 10:30 PM
Texting and dialing are virtually the same thing. You are looking for buttons to push and not watching the road. I am very careful, and only do it when I have a break like waiting at a stop or light. That said I have been in 3 accidents due to not paying attention while using the phone.Thank goodness nobody has ever been hurt (just minor sheet metal damage) The first one was 15 years ago before any of this was even imagined.
Deb wainscott April 06, 2011 at 02:47 AM
Wow Lisa, that video is very straight forward. Makes a very sound point
Doug Garmany April 06, 2011 at 03:40 AM
There is a free app called stoptxting.com that prevents txting and driving at the same time. Give it a look at stoptxting.com
elizabeth doyle April 06, 2011 at 04:34 AM
I saw signs on the bridge saying $159.00 fine for texting. Make it $1559.00 and it could have some impact. When you are driving, often someone is going irregular speeds and when you see them...they are on the phone....either talking or texting. Everyone is looking at their phone while walking down the street, in markets, in parking lots. It might be part of the survival of the most aware.
c5 April 07, 2011 at 01:46 PM
well if the police are going to enforce this law more i think that's a good thing, as this behavior clearly impacts public safety. hopefully enforcing this law will get them off the revenue raising nuisance speeding ticket and other waste of time activities that have zero impact on safety. sitting on pleasant hill or deer hill road at 5am waiting to snag local resident commuters on their way to work does nothing for safety and it tarnishes the image of the local police in residents eyes imo.
Ken April 16, 2011 at 01:00 PM
Big SUVs do scare me more than a prius especially after dumb blonde in BIG black suv holding phne in left hand ran stop sign at St stevens get off from 24 east obviously never saw me or the stop .Ialways look 3 times before crossing especially for commuters trying to get ahead of two cars in trip home 4/6 p.m.Talk about Holywood stop. Next time ill get her plate # and share with you.

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