Authorities ticketed 470 drivers for talking or texting on their cell phones while behind the wheel during a nearly weeklong crackdown on distracted driving.
The effort, by San Diego County Sheriff's deputies and the California Highway Patrol, started Feb. 13 and wrapped up Saturday.
The minimum fine for talking without a hands-free device, or texting on a cell phone, is $159 for a first offense. Repeat offenders pay $279. Adults must use a hands-free device for talking on cell phones, and texting while driving is banned.
Sheriff's Lt. David Gilmore said three juveniles received citations under a zero-tolerance policy, which prohibits cell phone use of any kind by underage motorists.
Aside from those ticketed, law enforcement officers logged 556 instances of seeing drivers violating laws related to cell phones, though those drivers were not cited because the officers were handling other business, Gilmore said.
"Distracted driving is a serious traffic safety concern that puts everyone on the road at risk," he said. "Several drivers who were contacted remarked that they had seen the public information campaign prior to their traffic stop and subsequent citation."
The first state law curbing cell phone use while driving took effect July 1, 2008, and authorities launched a broad effort to ensure motorists were aware of it. Six months later, a law banning texting while driving was placed on the books.
According to the state Office of Traffic Safety, drivers who use devices are four times more likely to get into accidents and injure themselves.
– City News Service