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Goleta Police Cite 74 Drivers for Violation of ‘Hands-Free’ Cell Phone Law

Operation targets drivers texting or talking on cell phones without hands-free devices

As part of its zero-tolerance operation to promote traffic safety, the Goleta Police Department issued 74 citations Wednesday to drivers texting or talking on cell phones without a hands-free device, both of which are violations.

Five cell-phone violators were also found to be driving without a valid California driver’s license.

The city’s zero-tolerance operation to promote traffic safety and to reduce accidents caused by distracted drivers focused on motorists who were using their cell phones.

The Vehicle Code prohibits people from driving while talking or listening on a cell phone except in a hands-free manner. It also prohibits drivers from writing, sending or reading a text while driving, according to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Drew Sugars.

“This type of enforcement protects our community by reducing the number of traffic collisions and creating a safer environment for everyone using city roadways,” said Vyto Adomaitis, Goleta’s public safety director.

Sugars said some drivers will use the speaker mode while holding onto the phone either directly in front of them or to one side of their face, which can obstruct their vision.

“Many motorists believe they can drive and talk on their cell phone as long as it is in speaker mode,” Sgt. Kevin Huddle said. “Unfortunately, they are still holding the phone in their hands. As long as you can have the phone lying anywhere within the car and not have to hold it, you have a ‘hands-free’ environment. The fine of up to $200 for the first offense is significantly more than the price of a hands-free device.”

Sugars said further operations would be held without notice.

In 2008, more than 30,000 drivers in California were involved in traffic collision in which inattention played a role. More than 1,000 of those drivers identified the use of a cell phone as the cause for the inattention, according to the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System.

Noozhawk managing editor Michelle Nelson can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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