CHP urges safe, non-distracted driving

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Distracted driving is a serious safety concern for all drivers throughout California, especially teen drivers. Eighty percent of vehicle crashes involve some kind of driver distraction, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Talking on a cellphone or texting is the main source of driver distraction. The California Highway Patrol is urging teenage drivers to stop texting, put away cellphones and focus on driving. In an effort save lives, CHP, along with Impact Teen Drivers, will conduct a year-long teen distracted driving traffic safety campaign through September 2013.

“The California Office of Traffic Safety grant is an exciting opportunity for Impact Teen Drivers and the CHP to continue to be at the forefront of decreasing the number of collisions and deaths associated with distracted teen drivers,” said Kelly Browning, executive director of Impact Teen Drivers. “It will take a strong combination of education and enforcement to have a fundamental and sustained behavior shift toward driving distraction-free.”

California drivers age 20 years or older were involved in nearly 22,000 collisions from October 1, 2009, through Sept. 30, 2010, in which a distraction was documented as a factor in the cause of the crash. As new drivers, teens are at an even greater risk of being involved in collisions due to distracted driving because of the peer pressures to stay immediately connected to their friends via text and cellphone. Teenage distracted driving is one of the leading contributors to collisions and near collisions.

“The CHP is urging teen drivers to focus on driving,” said Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Eliminate the urge to text or call by putting away the distractions. Through education, enforcement and the continued partnership between the CHP and Impact Teen Drivers, we can change this dangerous behavior.”

The 12-month, grant-funded “Teen Distracted Drivers Education and Enforcement II” campaign consists of an education component as well as distracted driver enforcement operations to be conducted throughout the state.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.