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CHP cracks down on distracted drivers

October 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Authorities in Southern California began a crackdown on drivers texting, making calls or driving with other distractions Thursday.At a press conference in Elysian Park representatives from the California Highway Patrol, Automobile Club of Southern California and Caltrans presented startling statistics highlighting the dangers of distracted driving.

They said texting with one passenger in your car raises your chances of being in a crash by 547 percent. In 2009 4,500 people nationwide died in crashes involving a distracted driver and drivers who use handheld devices are four times more likely to get into a crash serious enough to injure themselves.

To drive those statistics home, the CHP and Toyota set up a distracted driving obstacle course in the Dodgers Stadium parking lot. Instructors called out common distractions such as changing the radio station, rolling down windows and opening and drinking from a bottle of water all while navigating a tricky obstacle course.

"Texting is the perfect storm of distracted driving," said Steve Finnegan with the Automobile Club of Southern California. "It takes your eyes off the road, it takes your hands off the wheel and it takes your brain off the task of driving."

He said the state's distracted driving laws are too weak. The Auto club is pushing for phone and texting violations to count as a point on a driver's record. The CHP is promising more Zero Tolerance enforcement programs like the one they held last week.


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