The Danville Police Department is among the dozens of Bay Area law enforcement agencies cracking down on texting drivers and other motorists whose eyes aren't on the road this April as part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
Local police agencies, along with the California Highway Patrol, will take part in a "zero-tolerance" enforcement and education effort this month to cut down on the number of inattentive drivers -- a campaign backed by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).
"While our officers are always on the lookout for distracted drivers, we do place a heightened awareness on the issue (in April) in support of the OTS mission," Danville Police Chief Steve Simpkins said.
In 2013, nearly 70% of California drivers surveyed by the OTS said they were hit or nearly hit by a driver who was talking or texting on a cellphone. According to the survey, three seconds of texting while driving at freeway speeds is equivalent to driving the length of a football field while blindfolded.
Cellphones are the root of most distracted driving problems in Danville, according to the police chief.
"As a frequent driver and pedestrian in town, I see far too much distracted driving, especially the use of smartphones. I am worried that the proliferation of smartphones has also created an atmosphere of ambivalence towards their use while driving," Simpkins said.
"While a person might think they can handle sending a quick text, they are not exempt from the laws of physics," he added. "You can't watch the road and use your hands to send a text message at the same time."
The increased enforcement and education locally and statewide aims to persuade drivers to recognize the dangers of distracted driving and reduce the number of serious injuries caused by inattentive motorists.
The minimum ticket cost is $161, with any subsequent tickets costing drivers at least $281.