Twin efforts launch to stop texting and driving

A new national ad campaign has begun telling people not to text and drive, while officers on the road will step up their enforcement.
April 3, 2014 5:26:58 PM PDT
The federal government is launching a crackdown on distracted drivers. They are targeting people who use their cellphones while driving.

The Department of Motor Vehicles says it handled almost half a million cellphone and texting convictions in 2013. They are the number one source of distracted drivers.

The slogan of this campaign is "you drive, you text, you pay." And they're not just talking about penalties and fines, but potentially deadly consequences.

At any given moment, during the day 660,000 Americans are either texting or talking on their cellphones while driving. That is according to federal transportation officials who on Thursday unveiled their first-ever national ad campaign targeting the worst offenders -- young people. To get their attention, the campaign ads are deliberately dramatic.

A federal survey found 71 percent of young drivers said they have composed or sent a text while driving and 78 percent have read one.

"Distraction is the new DUI," said CHP officer Mike Ferguson. He says he's heard it all."'I was on the speaker phone,' or 'I only looked down for a second.' The unfortunate thing is we hear those in crashes where people are hurt and killed, as well as when we make stops."

Authorities say a driver involved in a double fatality on Highway 12 in Santa Rosa last month said he was distracted by a text message.

Would your face on a billboard make you think twice about texting? Brian Singer, a passenger in a carpool is taking photos of distracted drivers and spending his own money to put them on Bay Area billboards.

"It feels like we've been lulled into complacency of driving and using our phones and I don't think people realize exactly how dangerous it is," said Singer from Twit Spotting.

There is a nationwide crackdown all month, but on Thursday and next Tuesday the CHP will concentrate on catching you in the act.


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