Distracted driving is such an important safety issue that April was recognized as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In California, police, sheriff and CHP officials joined the California Office of Traffic Safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), as well as law enforcement throughout the country, to work together to focus on education as well as enforcement.
The purpose of the campaign was to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving in an attempt to change behavior and save lives, not just in April but also year-round. The Monterey Park Police Department joined the statewide enforcement campaigns on April 7 and 20 “zero tolerance days” when all agencies were especially vigilant for distracted drivers. Although the purpose of the campaign was not to write as many citations as possible, sometimes citations are necessary for drivers to understand the importance of focusing on their driving.
During the campaign, officers of the Monterey Park Police Department stopped 352 vehicles, cited 281 drivers, arrested one driver, recovered one stolen vehicle and impounded three vehicles. “When stopped many drivers are embarrassed and admit to feeling pressured to read or send texts. Tempted drivers should place their phones on silent mode or keep them out of reach until they reach their destination,” said Monterey Park Police Sergeant Brent Archibald.
Distracted driving continues to be a problem, especially as the use of smartphones increase. Although such crashes are often difficult to prove, California had at least 84 fatal distracted driving collisions in 2013, 85 in 2014 and 67 in 2015, with the actual number of cases likely higher. The number of injury collisions for the same three-year period shows an increase: 10,078 in 2013; 10,463 in 2014, and 11,023 in 2015. NHTSA data for 2014 show nationwide, 3,179 people died in distracted driving collisions, which is 10 percent of all crash fatalities. An additional 431,000 people, or 18 percent, were injured in motor vehicle collisions involving distracted drivers.
This enforcement campaign was funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Sergeant Brent Archibald, Monterey Park Police Department