Police: Zero tolerance for distracted drivers

PASADENA, Calif. The /*California Highway Patrol*/ Southern Division and Los Angeles County law enforcement agencies are teaming up to catch distracted motorists.

Officers are making sure motorists are complying with laws against texting or using hand-held cell phones while driving.

According to the CHP, more than 30,000 California residents were involved in collisions in 2008 in which distracted driving played a part.

Authorities said with inattentive motorists being the leading factor in crashes and fender benders, the campaign is meant to send a strong message to drivers.

CHP Officer Ming Hsu has seen it all. Last week while observing drivers, he said he saw several motorists breaking the law.

"Probably out of 100 cars, 20 of them were using cell phones," Hsu said.

On Tuesday, Hsu pulled over Hector Gonzalez for being on his phone. Gonzalez said he had to because his Bluetooth was broken.

"I put it in my ear, it was hard to put in, and it broke," Gonzalez said. "I threw it away."

The CHP is trying to get the message out that distracted driving doesn't just mean using cell phones. It also means applying makeup, messing with the stereo or even removing both hands from the steering wheel.

"Probably upwards of 70 percent of all fender benders are due to distracted driving," Hsu said.

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