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‘Zero tolerance’ for distracted driving

POSTED October 18, 2011 5:58 p.m.

Due to the increase in the number of traffic collisions caused by drivers illegally using cell phones, Central Valley CHP areas and local law enforcement agencies will be focusing their enforcement on the Valley’s roadways during this week.

According to the CHP, cell phone use has become so popular that many young people don’t realize when, where and how often they are using their cellular phones. In 2009, there were more than 19,281 people in California involved in traffic collisions where inattention played a role. Those same collisions resulted in 60 fatalities and 8,870 victims injured.

The “zero tolerance” for distracted driving campaign coincides with National Teen Driver Safety Week. Traffic collisions are the leading cause of death for teens — between the ages of 15 and 20 — in America. Teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers.

“Inexperience combined with speed, a lack of seat belt compliance, distractions, alcohol or any other risk-taking behavior can have deadly results behind the wheel,” said California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Unlike a video game, you aren’t given multiple lives and there isn’t a reset button; our goal is to arm California’s youth with enough knowledge to make smart driving decisions.”

The CHP is hoping National Teen Driver Safety week will serve as an important reminder for teens and their parents or guardians to get involved with any number of the traffic safety programs the department offers which are geared toward teen drivers, including:

· Start Smart, a driver safety education class targeting new and future licensed teenage drivers between the age of 15-19 and their parents/guardians.

· Impact Teen Drivers, a non-profit, public awareness and education program designed to educate teens about the dangers of distracted driving.

· Every 15 Minutes, a program focused on high school juniors and seniors, which challenges them to think about drinking, driving, personal safety, the responsibility of making mature decisions and the impact their decisions have on family, friends, and many others.

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