Friday, April 1, 2016

Benicia Police Department joins crackdown on texting and handheld cellphone use behind the wheel

(Originally published in the 4/1/16 edition)

   Texting while driving is not safe. According to the National Safety Council, thousands of drivers have died in car crashes involving cellphone use. Nearly 1 in 5 crashes in 2013 in which someone was injured was due to distracted driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NSC has designated April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and Benicia Police Department will be among the more than 200 local law enforcement agencies taking part in it. 
   Police officers will be on the lookout for those who violate cellphone laws while driving. The current minimum ticket cost for those who break this law is $161 with a $50 fine for each subsequent ticket. The theme for the month is "It's not worth it," which makes it clear that a text or call is not worth a collision, fine or the injury or death of oneself or another person.
   "We take distracted driving very seriously," Lt. Scott Przekurat said in a statement. "Collisions resulting from distracted driving are 100 percent preventable. Is that text message or cellphone call really worth $161, or even worse, serious injury or loss of life?"
   Hands-free devices have become a popular means of talking on the phone while driving, but research suggests that this is no safer than talking on a handheld device. Both methods result in a form of "inattentive blindess" that takes drivers' focus off the road ahead and instead puts it on the conversation they are having, so caution must be taken.
   For more information on Distracted Driving Awareness Month, visit

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