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Police Urge Drivers to Put Down Their Cell Phones

Belmont police are adding traffic officers to look for those texting and driving this week.

If you use your cell phone while driving in Belmont, police are warning they will catch you.

As part of the statewide , the Belmont Police Department will beef up its effort to catch distracted drivers today and Wednesday.

“Drivers who break the law and place themselves and others in danger will be cited,” Belmont police Lt. Pat Halleran said in a statement.

A minimum ticket is $159, and a second ticket costs at least $279.

Today and Wednesday, the Police Department will deploy traffic officers specifically to watch for distracted drivers, Halleran said, in addition to this month's increased enforcement.

The Police Department has joined more than 225 law enforcement agencies throughout California as part of the state's first Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves, according to police.

Less experienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes, police said. Additionally, studies show that texting while driving can delay a driver’s reaction time just as severely as having a blood alcohol content of a legally-drunk driver.

The Police Department offers the following tips to keep the roads safe:

  • Turn your phone off or put it out of reach before starting the car.
  • Alert callers that you are unable to take calls when driving by changing your voicemail message.
  • Make it a point not to call or text anyone who may be driving, such as during the commute to and from work or school, especially parents calling teen drivers.
  • If you do need to make an important call or respond to a text message, pull over to a safe place to do so.
  • If going cold turkey is too much of a stretch and you just can’t turn your phone off, consider using one of the available mobile phone apps that holds calls and incoming texts.

“We take the issue of distracted driving very seriously,” Police Chief Don Mattei said in a statement. “Cell phone use and texting while driving is such a serious concern that we are putting officers on the road to enforce zero tolerance.”

Bob Cancilla April 26, 2011 at 01:22 PM
Bob Cancilla, Belmont I think that this program is wonderful and I am very appreciative that the Belmont Police Department is conducting it for two days this week. I continue to see this activity, at various times of the day, especially along Ralston Avenue and ECR. Studies have shown that distracted driving is one of the primary causes of accidents, which sometime involve serious injuries to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. I compliment the Police Chief the staff of the department for taking the time to focus on this important responsibility of law enforcement. Bob Cancilla, Belmont
Adele Della Santina April 26, 2011 at 03:35 PM
There are fines for pedestrians jaywalking. How about those that use cellphones without looking up when crossing the street?
pearl April 26, 2011 at 07:15 PM
Cab drivers are among the largest group of offenders. Please tell the police officers to pay special attention to cab drivers -- cab drivers talk on their cell phones all the time while driving - even when you tell them not to!!! : (
Phillip Bailey April 26, 2011 at 08:30 PM
Love all the comments so far. Is this epidemic ever going to go away...for real? I literally drive next to people on Ralston from Ralston school to El Camino that haha TALK on their cell phones in every conceivable fashon. The hold them out straight and talk hoping NO one will see. They lay the phone on their shoulder, they talk with the inside ear. Its comical and dangerous. About 10 people bumped into me at the Giants game last weekend while walking with their heads down while married to their electronic device. I wish some day that cell phones did not work once you get into your car. Question: ARE POLICE EXEMPT FROM THIS LAW?
Mary Morrissey Parden April 28, 2011 at 05:17 PM
First, I support any law that encourages safety and presumably intends that drivers keep their hands on the wheel. What I am confused about is the title of "distracted driving" and all that this might cover in the vehicle code. I have read (and heard) Belmont police officials speak about are two separate but related issues. 1) Using a HAND-held device and 2) being distracted (this might happen under many different scenarios). Would it be possible to identify the vehicle code that is being used to cite drivers so that I can read the code itself?
Gladwyn d'Souza May 16, 2011 at 02:47 PM
Excellent. Belmont PD is great. Calrmont and Ralston /280 are other location for distracted drving enforcement. Laura, how many hours did the police spend during this enforcement? That would give us a rate of violations per hour during which these manaical scoflows endanger public safety. We only become aware of the severity of the problem during these once a year efforts, because our streets have become so big on the public dime, that they unenforecable with the PDs we can now afford. Bad -the fines are too small to be effective. They should be 1% percent of gross income.
Gladwyn d'Souza May 16, 2011 at 03:09 PM
Cell phones currently can be tracked for speed while in use. The phone company is already a tattletail. Marrying the phone's movement to a public roadway is also already possible and mined for advertising purposes. The government uses the data for predator drones. The enforceable speed on the roadway is already known. Why not add the ticket to the phone bill? If the phone company got a portion of the fine there would be mucho enforcemnt. Like exceeding your minutes. Average customer wouldn't even notice it. Much better use of Jerry Hill's time than reducing the cost of running over a pedestrian with an illegal right turn on red. Everyone's bias toward technology, jobs, and growth would be satisfied with this phone app.

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