Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 10:52 am | Partly Cloudy 72º


Motorists Using Mobil Phones Are Accidents Waiting to Happen

Put Your Phone Down. Just Drive!

Drivers are using their cell phones less often while driving, 10 years after hands-free became the law, but distracted driving remains a serious safety challenge in California.

Observing April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the first week in April as California Teen Safe Driving Week, safety advocates will focus on education and enforcement efforts statewide.

The Goleta Police Department will join law enforcement throughout the state to step up enforcement along with awareness efforts by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) to discourage distracted driving.

In April, officers will put emphasis on enforcing all cell phone and distracted driving laws. The goal is to increase voluntary compliance, but sometimes citations are necessary for motorists to better understand the importance of driving distraction.

April 5 and 13 have been designated as the statewide enforcement dates when law-enforcement agencies will step up distracted driving enforcement activities.

The California Department of Transportation will put distracted driving messages on the changeable message signs on freeways during April.

Traffic officers have issued hundreds of thousands of citations over the past three years to those texting or calling on a hand-held cell phone. Recent legislation now makes it illegal to use your smartphone’s apps while driving.

Still, everyone has seen other drivers on a device driving in a dangerous manner during a commute or a trip around town. Since 2011, OTS has conducted an observational study of handheld cell phone use every year.

“This year’s study on the use of handheld cell phones and texting shows a decrease over past years. However, more work needs to be done to target those who were observed to still be breaking the law,” said OTS director Rhonda Craft.

“The best way to put an end to distracted driving is to educate all Californians about the danger it poses," Craft said.

"We will do this through enforcement and education efforts like our new advertising campaign Just Drive, reminding drivers to put down their phones and focus on the road,” she said.

"California’s distracted driving laws have been saving lives for a decade now,” said former State Sen. Joe Simitian, who authored the state’s hands-free and no-texting laws.

“Every day, somewhere in California, someone is sitting down to dinner with their family who wouldn't have made it through the day without these laws on the books," he said. "That’s tremendously gratifying.”

Preliminary 2017 data also shows nearly 22,000 drivers were involved in distracted driving collisions in California.

That figure shows a decline from the more than 33,000 drivers involved in distracted driving collisions in 2007, the last full year before the hands-free law went into effect.

“Smart phones are part of everyone’s lives now. Texting, phone calls and posting on social media can be an addicting habit,” said Lt. Jason Grossini, chief of police services for the city of Goleta.

“But doing these things can have deadly consequences while driving on our city’s street. Changing these dangerous habits will help make our roadways safer for everyone,” Grossini said.

The Goleta Police Department offers the following safety tips:

» If you receive a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location, but never on a freeway. Once you are safely off the road, it is safe to text.

» Designate your passenger as your designated texter. Allow that person access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.

» Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.

» Cell phone use can be habit-forming. If you are struggling to not text and drive, put the cell phone in the trunk or back seat of the vehicle until you arrive at your destination.

The Goleta Police Department is deploying extra traffic officers, with grant-funded resources, on various days throughout the city. Violators will be stopped and cited, with fines set at $162 for first-time offenders.

The campaign is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The city of Goleta contracts with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office for police services.

— Kelly Hoover for Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.


Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >