The South Lake Tahoe Police Department has teamed up with The California Office of Traffic Safety, the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the California Highway Patrol, and 36 other law enforcement agencies across the greater Sacramento region to eliminate motorists' hand-held cell phone use and texting. The effort is a special federally funded pilot program using the region to test tactics that may be employed nationally in the future.
Beginning Nov. 30 and lasting through Dec. 9, South Lake Tahoe PD will be out in force to issue tickets to drivers using hand-held cell phones or texting. Nationally in 2010, 3,092 people were killed, and an estimated 416,000 others were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.
"Talking or texting on a cell phone while driving on the streets of South Lake Tahoe is dangerous to everyone on the roadways with them," said Sgt Shannon Laney "Officers will be out looking, and will be ticketing with zero tolerance."
Because too many drivers still don't get the message that using a cell phone while driving can be dangerous and deadly, this initial distracted driving crackdown marks the first of many enforcement waves taking place over the next year. California's distracted driving law bans all drivers from using hand-held devices and texting while operating a motor vehicle. Yet, in 2011, the California Department of Motor Vehicles reported 460,487 handheld cell phone convictions, up from 361,260 in 2010.
Distracted drivers in South Lake Tahoe talking on a hand-held cell phone or texting will receive a first-time ticket costing a minimum of $159, with a second offense costing $279. But the goal of the special enforcement operation is not to issue tickets, but to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.
• Turn off your phone and/or put it out of reach
• Include in your outgoing message that you can't answer while you are driving
• Don't call or text anyone at a time when you think they may be driving