April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and law enforcement agencies across Southern California will be keeping an eye out for unsafe drivers.
The California Highway Patrol partnered with AAA to spread the message on the dangers and consequences of distracted driving.
According to AAA, an average of nine people die each day across the country due to distracted driving. In California alone, more than 100 people died in distracted driving crashes and more than 9,000 were seriously injured in 2020.
AAA says those numbers are likely higher because distracted driving is not often reported and it's hard to determine it as the cause of the crash.
"The purpose of this campaign is to increase that social stigma of using the smartphone behind the wheel, like the stigma that exists with alcohol-impaired driving. Most people know it's wrong to go drinking alcohol and then get behind the wheel and drive," said Doug Shupe with the Auto Club of Southern California."Yet those same people wouldn't think twice about picking up that smartphone and then texting...The consequences could be the same - deaths and injuries that are entirely preventable."
When it comes to distracted driving, authorities say pedestrians, cyclists and others who share the roads with vehicles are exposed to a higher level of danger.
Emani Lawrence, 26, of San Deigo, shared her story of how her family fell victim twice to distracted drivers.
"Unfortunately my grandmother was killed by someone talking on the phone while driving back in 2008. Just last year, I actually myself was a victim of someone using their phone while driving," she said.
Lawrence survived that crash and is now part of the traveling campaign to bring awareness to the issue.
"I was just so sad and shocked - this happened 13 years ago to my grandmother and now it's happening to me. It just shows how easy it is for anyone to be a victim."