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Torrance police crack down on car cell phones

March 30, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
More than a dozen Torrance police officers cracked down on people who text or talk on their cell phones while driving on Tuesday. Their eyes scan car after car and when a potential violator is spotted the red and blue lights go on and the car is pulled over."It is a big problem," Torrance Police officer Jason McDonald said. "I think a lot of people are aware of the law but not willing to change their habits, so to speak, they're accustomed to."

One of the many cell phone offenders didn't believe that his phone would cause a distraction.

"I was just getting a message from my son," Bill Symington said. "I was on the cell phone for maybe 15 seconds listening to it. I personally don't think that being on a cell phone for a minute or 30 seconds or a minute is that distracting."

In one case a cell phone violation turned into a car being towed away. The driver didn't have a valid license or insurance and the registration had expired two years ago.

But sometimes, like in the case of Karen Lee, an officer can make an honest mistake and let her go.

"I was not talking on my cell phone," Lee explained. "I was singing along to Prince. My cell phone was zipped up in my purse, safe and secure, and I was just having a musical moment."

According to recent studies, texting while driving is actually more dangerous than drinking and driving. And it's the people who still fail to comply with the cell phone laws that make the Torrance police department want to plan this operation.

There were 65 citations given out in two hours on Tuesday. That's an improvement over the last operation but still not good enough.

"We're not really out here to write tickets," Officer McDonald said. "We're out here just to try and make people more aware and hopefully, actually best case scenario is we don't write a lot of tickets. That means people are doing what they're supposed to be doing but unfortunately we're going to have to do more of these to get to that point."

If the threat of serious injury isn't enough to discourage drivers on their cell phones a fine of up to $300 will help.