Paso Robles Police Department cited 54 drivers for violating California’s hands-free cell phone law as part of a larger effort to educate the public on the dangers of distracted driving.

“April was Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and it is important for drivers to understand the huge risks they take using their cell phones behind the wheel,” said Paso Robles Police Department Commander Davis. “It’s careless, dangerous and illegal. Drivers should keep their eyes on the road, not their phone.”

A first-time offense is a $162 Fine

Under the most recent cell phone law that went into effect in 2017, drivers are prohibited from having a phone in their hand for any reason and can only use their phone in a hands-free manner. The phones must be mounted on the dashboard, windshield or center console, and can only be touched once with the swipe or tap of a finger to activate or deactivate a function. First-time offenders face a $162 fine.

A 2018 observational survey by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) on driver cell phone use found about 4.5 percent of drivers are still using their cell phone, and more often to perform a function on the phone, versus talking.

“There’s a reason it is against the law.”

“When drivers look down at their phone to read or sent a text, check GPS or scroll through social media, they are taking their eyes off the road, which is incredibly dangerous,” Paso Robles Police Department Commander Davis. “There is a reason it is against the law.”

If someone needs to make a call or text someone, Paso Police suggest pulling over and parking at a safe location. People who are unable to resist the urge and stay off the phone while driving should put their phone in a place they cannot access, like the backseat or trunk.

It’s not just phones that are driving distractions

In addition to phones, other serious distractions include eating, grooming, reaching for fallen objects, fiddling with the radio or console controls and changing clothes. Paso Robles Police Department encourages everyone to avoid distractions and go safely.

Funding for distracted driving enforcement is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

By News Staff