Correction: Numbers originally reported to NBC4 from the California Highway Patrol for this story were incomplete. The initial 2012 data was limited to one day and not the entire week, CHP Officer Ming Hsu told NBC4 on Thursday. The story has updated to reflect the new information.
Drivers in Los Angeles received more than 2,000 citations related to distracted driving in one week, as law enforcement agencies crack down during Distracted Driver Awareness Month.
In the first week of the April, California Highway Patrol officers issued 1,757 citations for driving while talking on a cell phone and 284 citations for texting while driving in LA County, said Officer Ming Hsu, public information officer for the CHP Southern Division.
“Our officers are being super vigilant, and it’s going to be very difficult to get away with that this month,” Hsu said.
Data initially provided by the CHP to NBC4 was incomplete. Updated statistic provided Thursday showed a comparable number of citations in 2012 and 2013 during the first weeks of April.
Last year, officers issued 2,404 citations for driving while talking on a cell phone between April 1 and April 7, nearly 700 more citations than this year, according to the CHP.
“With the population of LA, that’s not significant,” Hsu said on Thursday. “There haven’t been any new laws. It’s just an extra year of education.”
Some areas of the county have officers who are specifically assigned to monitor distracted driving, but in general, Hsu said the high number of citations is due to ignoring the law.
“Overtime, it seems like people get complacent,” Hsu said. “We continue to focus on it, and hopefully drivers get the message: it’s still not safe, no matter how much time has passed.”
Officers can cite a driver for talking or texting on a cell phone, eating, drinking coffee, playing with the radio or using a GPS device.
“If the officer determines that whatever you’re doing in the car has affected your driving, they’ll issue you a citation,” Hsu said.
Most drivers who are pulled over for distracted driving violate code 22350, the basic speed law, which mandates motorists drive at a safe speed under safe conditions. When officers see a driver texting or applying makeup, the conditions are deemed unsafe and therefore the safe speed is zero, Hsu said.
“I’ve seen people shave. I’ve seen people completely lean over and pick up something from the passenger floor board,” Hsu said. “These are things that should be done before you get on the road or after you get to your destination.”
Officers issued 142 citations for distracted driving violations unrelated to talking or texting on a cell phone between April 1 and 7. In total, 2,184 citations were issued for distracted driving-related violations during that week.