California Agencies' Study Shows More Drivers Using Cell Phones

Details of the study were released July 14 by the California Office of Traffic Safety and the California Highway Patrol.

A study released July 14 by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and the California Highway Patrol found the percentage of California drivers seen using a cell phone while they drive has risen by 39 percent. Conducted by the OTS and the University of California, Berkeley Safe Transportation Research and Education Center,the study's researchers reported 9.2 percent of motorists were spotted using a cell phone while driving, up from 6.6 percent of drivers in 2014. The highest level recorded since research began was 10.8 percent of motorists using a cell phone in 2012.

"It's shocking that nearly 10 percent of motorists were observed using their cell phones while driving a motor vehicle, a potentially lethal combination," said Office of Traffic Safety Director Ronda Craft. "We will continue our aggressive public outreach campaign and our partnership with law enforcement to educate the public about the dangers of those who drive distracted and put the lives of others at risk."

Law enforcement statewide emphasized enforcement during April’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month, when officers across the state issued about tickets to more than 46,000 drivers using a cell phone while driving. That's approximately twice as many as during the average month, according to CHP, which reported that officers also wrote 35 percent more tickets for texting while driving during April when compared with April 2014.

"Discouraging drivers from operating a vehicle while distracted is a challenge that law enforcement is faced with year round," said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. "By raising awareness through education and enforcement, we are working toward changing the dangerous behavior of using a cell phone while driving, and the purpose is to save lives."

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