The Mountain View Police Department, along with the other law enforcement officers in Santa Clara County, are cracking down on drivers who text or talk on the phone in the month of April.
For two days, April 4 and 5, officers will work overtime specifically to watch out for motorists with their hands on their phones and not on the wheel, Mountain View Police Community Relations Manager Liz Wylie said in an e-mail.
In August of last year, when police agencies conducted a similiar two-day, zero tolerance campaign, the Mountain View department wrote more citations than any other department in the Bay Area. Mountain View police cited 261 people for driving while on their cell phone and 29 for texting. The next largest number of citations per city was 85 cell phone violations in San Jose and seven texting violations in East Palo Alto.
Mountain View enthusiastically participates in the campaign, because as Wylie says, "prior campaigns and educational outreach regarding hands-free laws have not had the desired impact and many drivers still regularly ignore the laws.
The first violation of the laws costs a minimum of $159, and subsequent tickets will cost $279, according to the California Highway Patrol.
"We take the issue of distracted driving very seriously," CHP Golden Gate Division Chief Teresa Becher said in a statement. "Is that text message or cell phone call really worth $159?"
Studies show that drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves, with young, inexperienced drivers most at-risk to die in a distraction-related crash.
Studies have also found that texting while driving can delay a driver's reaction time just as much as having the blood alcohol content of a legally drunken driver.
Bay City News contributed to this story