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Friday, April 19, 2024

California Highway Patrol Valley Division promotes safe driving through educational campaign

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

By SOFIA BIREN — city@theaggie.org

 

The month of April marks Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Distracted driving has become more prevalent in recent years due to the increasing dependence on cell phones. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, 3,142 people died from car collisions caused by distracted driving. 

In 2010, automobile accidents in Yolo County were the cause of 143 non-fatal hospitalizations and 24 deaths. Additionally, automobile accidents are the most common cause of death of people between five and 29 years old. 

To combat the prevalence of accidents caused by distracted driving, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) is using Distracted Driving Awareness Month to educate the California public about the dangers involved with distracted driving. 

The CHP Valley Division, which serves the Greater Sacramento Area, including Davis, is making efforts to educate drivers about the danger involved with distracted driving. Officer Mike Harris, a public information officer for the CHP, said via email that education is the main method used to decrease the occurrence of distracted driving. However, when education proves to be ineffective, they employ enforcement campaigns and continue their vigilance with regular patrol efforts. 

“We also encourage our officers to be proactive and communicate with the public about why distracted driving is so dangerous,” Harris said via email. “From an officer’s standpoint, texting and talking on a cell phone looks like a DUI. Violators weave, speed up and slow down. Clearly this behavior is unsafe while operating a vehicle”.

Among those who feel strongly about the dangers of distracted driving is Valerye Trevizo, a second-year community and regional development major. She said that when she was getting her license, her biggest priority was getting to her destination. 

“Putting my phone in the glove compartment benefits me,” Trevizo said. “Because I don’t have to worry about my phone falling through a seat crack or go[ing] flying in a harsh stop.”

According to a press release issued by the CHP, “Any time drivers take their eyes off the road to look at or use a phone, they are driving blind. For example, looking down at a cell phone to read a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of five seconds – at 55 mph, that is the equivalent of driving the length of a 300-foot football field without looking.” 

Trevizo said that in order to foster a healthier culture when it comes to driving, people must lead by example. She said that she hopes that her decision to silence her phone and put it in the glove compartment or give it to whoever is driving with her helps create a safer culture when it comes to driving. 

“Nothing on your phone is worth endangering a life when you drive,” CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray said in a press release. “Your primary focus should always be on the road and the task of driving your vehicle safely.”

Education and community engagement have proved to be successful thus far. 

“We have gotten amazing feedback from the community about our efforts through social media,” Harris said via email. “We have conducted multiple media interviews. During our enforcement campaigns we have been able to make multiple contacts with drivers reiterating the dangers of distracted driving and helping to curb this dangerous driving behavior.”

Written by: Sofia Biren — city@theaggie.org

 

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