April marks the second annual "National Distracted Driving Awareness Month," and the California Office of Traffic Safety wants drivers to know that more than 200 local police departments — including the Mountain View Police Department — and 103 CHP offices will be taking part.
You may have seen the television ad, produced by the OTS: A police officer pulls over an undead driver and asks the groaning ghoul behind the wheel if he knows why he was stopped.
"Uggghhh..." is the reply.
"Don't be a zombie," the ad warns, implying that those who choose to focus on their handsets, instead of the road, are a lot like the clumsy, brain-craving monsters in horror movies — able to move in a general direction, but mostly unaware of their surroundings. And dangerous.
"Drivers need to ask themselves, 'Is that phone call or text message worth my life or the lives of those around me?'" asked CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow, in a press release. "The answer is simple, it's not worth it."
The Mountain View Police Department recognizes National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, according to spokeswoman Liz Wylie. However, she said, the department has only planned two specific days where extra officers will be deployed with the explicit task of nabbing drivers violating California's two "hands free" laws.
The first extra-enforcement day was April 3, Wylie said. The next will be April 18.
Last April, police in Mountain View issued 2,344 citations for "hands free" violations. Statewide more than 52,000 cell phone citations were issued over the same period, according to the CHP press release — four times California's monthly average.
A first-time ticket for driving while texting or using a cell phone without a headset is $159, at minimum. A second violation will cost a driver at least $279.