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What's Bugging You? Driving on the phone

September 21, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
People driving and talking on their cell phones is what bugs our viewers. In fact, it is the number one complaint. So what can you do about it?

Law or no law, people still use their cell phones while driving. It took us less than a minute to drive down a freeway and find a person talking on the phone while driving. The driver didn't even notice us.

The hands-free law went into effect two years ago and some viewers complain that it's being ignored.

"I don't think it's ignoring. I think what it is is I think it's, once again, they've been doing it so long, and you have to remember, it's only two years, so just like with all of our other laws, it takes a period of time to change human behavior," said California Highway Patrol Officer Leland Tang.

Eyewitness News did a story about this in October. Judging by the e-mails received, it's still the number one thing that bugs our viewers.

Los Angeles leads the state for the most citations for cell phone use or texting while driving: More than 4,000 per month.

"Enforcement is a way to really draw attention to it, but then also, once again, educational campaigns and informational campaigns is another way," said Tang.

Getting caught means a $20 fine, but with penalties and fees it can go up to $200.

There is a bill in Sacramento that could double that, and you could get a moving violation, a point on your driving record.

"Enforcement by itself is not going to do it," said Tang. "So we could change the enforcement strategy and jack the fines up to the sky but once again, that's not going to change the behavior. It's got to be people have to embrace it and they have to change it."

And a lot of viewers ask us about police using cell phones while driving. They tell us it sets a bad example for others.

Law enforcement officers are exempt up to a point. They can use cell phones while driving, but only "in the course and scope of his or her duties." That would mean no personal calls.

The Auto Club is trying to pass laws banning text-messaging by drivers in all 50 states by 2013.

The best advice: Don't talk and drive.


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