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Turlock police grabbed the attention of multiple distracted drivers in April
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The crackdown on distracted driving in April resulted in the Turlock Police Department handing out 61 citations to motorists whose attention were on things other than the road, with the most prevalent distraction being cell phone calls and texts.

“Using a hand-held phone for calls, texting or the apps while driving is something we all know is wrong, but too many drivers are doing it anyway. So, when we see it, we show zero tolerance,” said Turlock Police Department’s Traffic Unit Officer Mike Simbalenko.

The Turlock Police Department utilized a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to fund extra traffic patrols during the month of April, which is national Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The extra patrols targeted various points around the city at different days and times.

The police department issued 61 citations to violators of California’s distracted-driving law during the recent enforcement period. The law provides that it is illegal to hold and use a cell phone for texting, calling or using the apps while driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 3,477 people were killed and an estimated 391,000 injured in motor vehicle collisions involving distracted drivers in 2015. That is a 9 percent increase in fatalities as compared to the previous year.

“Distracted driving kills too many people for us to ignore the facts and pretend it’s okay— it is never acceptable to text and drive,” said Simbalenko.

State legislators tried to help curb the growing rates by passing Assembly Bill 1785, which requires all drivers in California to keep their cell phone out of their hands while operating a motor vehicle. Under the new law, a driver may activate or deactivate a feature or function of the cell phone or wireless communication device by swiping or tapping its screen only if it is properly mounted or not being held in a driver’s hand.

Offenders caught texting and driving face fines of $162 and higher for a second violation. Though the high-visibility enforcement effort is over, law enforcement officers will continue watching for distracted drivers to make sure all motorists keep their eyes on the road, and their hands on the wheel.