Text and Drive in South Orange County? Not cool and $162 fine.
It's always good advice not to text and drive, but just look around, people still do it. Distracted driving is a dangerous and illegal behavior the Orange County Sheriff’s Department is working to deter drivers from doing it.
Starting on Friday, May 14, deputies will focus their efforts on drivers that are talking, texting, using an app, or any other action on their phone that is not hands-free and violates California’s cell phone law. A violation is subject to a $162 fine for the first offense, and at least $285 for a second offense.
Distracted driving comes in many forms, but cell phones remain the top distraction. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
- 3,450 people were killed in 2016 due to distracted drivers.
- Distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2019... We're not improving much.
- A 2018 observational survey by Fresno State and the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) found nearly 5 percent of California drivers were using their phones illegally behind the wheel, either by talking on or using their phones without a hands-free device.
In this day and age, it is natural instinct to answer the phone or read a text, but the focus for drivers should be on the road.
Don't forget, other distractions include:
- talking to passengers
- using GPS
- adjusting the radio
- taking off a jacket
- reaching for an object on the floor
- Or.... a combination of multiple of the above.
If you have an important phone call or need to reprogram your navigation system, pull over to a safe parking place. To resist the urge of using your phone, either silence it or put it somewhere you can’t reach.
South Orange County has statistically many more steep hills, gorgeous views, curves, and sudden stoplights than rural America. We practically have a responsibility to focus on the road more than other states. If you have kids, teach them to keep the phone in the back seat, or left in a bag out of reach. Use May 14 and the rest of the month to remind others, it's not worth the ticket, and it's not worth an accident or worse.