The Placer County Sheriff's Office will provide stepped-up enforcement of cell phone laws Monday through March 8.
The enforcement effort is part of a special federally funded pilot program using the region to test tactics that may be employed nationwide in the future, according to a Sheriff's Office news release.
Deputies will be out in force in Colfax, north Auburn and Loomis to issue tickets to drivers using hand-held cell phones or texting.
"Talking or texting on a cell phone while driving on the streets of Placer County is dangerous to everyone on the roadways," Sheriff Ed Bonner said in a written statement. "Deputies will be out looking, and will be ticketing with zero tolerance."
California's distracted-driving law bans all drivers from using hand-held devices and texting while operating a motor vehicle. Yet, in 2011, the California Department of Motor Vehicles reported 460,487 convictions for hand-held cell phones, up from 361,260 in 2010.
Drivers in Placer County talking on a hand-held cell phone or texting will receive a first-time ticket costing a minimum of $159, officials said. A second offense will cost $279.
Sheriff's officials stressed, however, that the purpose of the enforcement operation is not to issue tickets but to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.
They advise drivers to turn off their cell phone or put it out of reach. They also recommend that people state in their outgoing message that they can't answer while driving, and that they avoid calling or texting individuals when they think that person might be driving.
The enforcement effort is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety and the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.