A monthlong campaign designed to cut down on distracted driving -- any activity that takes the driver's attention away from the road -- began Monday in California as part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month..
As part of California's "It's Not Worth It" campaign, California Highway Patrol officers and officials with other agencies will target distracted drivers, such as those using cell phones and other mobile devices. California's hands-free cell phone law, which went into effect in 2008, carries a minimum fine of $159 for first-time violators and $279 for subsequent offenses.
"You're looking down at your cell phone, you're manipulating the keys and you're thinking about what you're texting," said CHP Officer Chris Baldonado. "You encompass all that with driving, and it's just a recipe for a collision."
The enforcement and awareness campaign will last through April. Although cell phone use is commonly referenced when it comes to violations, other activities qualify as distractions.
"It could be your GPS, your MP3 player -- anything that could take your eyes off of the road," said Baldonado.
In 2011, 3,331 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver, according to federal government figures.
In California, the Department of Motor Vehicles reported nearly 450,000 hand-held cell phone and texting convictions in 2012. More than 57,000 tickets for hand-held law violations were issued in April 2012, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.