Authorities targeting distracted drivers next month; includes two ‘no tolerance days’

Authorities targeting local distracted drivers next month, which includes two 'no tolerance days'

The San Pablo Police Department offered drivers fair warning Wednesday when it announced a statewide campaign targeting distracted drivers next month.

Law enforcement agencies recognize April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. That means local police, sheriff and California Highway Patrol officials will be extra vigilant about pulling over drivers who are texting, eating, drinking, grooming or reading maps.

The campaign includes two zero tolerance days on April 7 and April 20, when “all agencies will be especially vigilant,” according to a police statement.

In California in 2013, at least 84 fatal collisions in vehicles were linked to distracted driving, and the actual number of cases is likely higher, police said. There were 85 in 2014 and 67 in 2015.  Over the same three year period, injury accidents related to distracted driving has increased from 10,078 to 11,023.

“As we rely on our cell phones more and more in our everyday lives, we seem to be kidding ourselves in thinking that they don’t affect our driving,” Office of Traffic Safety Director Rhonda Craft said in a statement.  “Crashes are up.  The scientific evidence is solid.  The dangers are real, and they apply to all of us.  We need to silence the distractions.”

Enforcement efforts will be accompanied by a TV campaign in April with the message “U Drive. U Text. U Pay,” along with a social media campaign urging drivers to “Silence the Distraction.”