Sacto 9-1-1
May 22, 2013
Cell phone ticket numbers about the same but usage down in state

About 57,000 drivers were ticketed for handheld cell phone talking and texting during an April crackdown by the California Highway Patrol and other police agencies.

The California Office of Traffic Safety notes the 57,000 tickets matches the number handed out the year before. The average number of tickets handed out in a non-distracted driving awareness month is 36,000.

While the ticket numbers are the same, the percentage of drivers actively using cell phones at any one time in the state dropped from 10.8 percent in 2012 to 7.4 percent this year. Those figures are compiled during a March observation survey.

"We are very encouraged to see the usage figures decline," said California Office of Traffic Safety Director Christopher J. Murphy. "But any number is too high, since any usage of cell phones while driving takes away too much of the brain's ability to react to what's happening on the road."

Steps to avoid distracted driving:

• Avoid temptation by turning off the cell phone and placing it out of reach in the car.

• Mention on voicemail that you can't answer because you might be driving.

• Don't call anyone if there's a chance they are driving.

• Need to call or text? Pull into a parking space.

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