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Put it Away with KMIR

Angela Monroe

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Put it Away with KMIR

CREATED Oct. 13, 2013

 Distracted driving is a huge problem on the roads across the country, and right here in the valley.

California passed the hands-free cell phone law for drivers back in 2008, but many people ignore that law, and continue to text and drive.
The National Highway Safety Council estimates more than 800,000 crashes across the country this year alone are the result of drivers using their phones when they shouldn't be.
You see it all the time in the cars next to you: drivers clearly looking up and down to text or check a message, or on the phone in plain sight resting on a steering wheel as a driver tries to multi-task by texting and driving.
Though it might not seem like a big deal, studies show drivers using cell phones are four times more likely to be in a serious crash.
Some of these scenes are seared in our memory -- a bus driver typing on their phone and then smashing into the vehicles ahead.
There are many tragic crashes that ended in lost lives.
Texting and driving has led to horrible injuries, and drivers facing years behind bars for manslaughter.
There are also stories that hit close to home.
La Quinta resident, Courtney Moran says one of her friends almost died from texting and driving.
"It was a bad situation, late one night she was texting and driving, and a drunk driver actually got her and hit her, so she almost died from it but yeah, that's why I don't do it anymore," said Moran.
Coachella resident, Arely Angulo's cousin also crashed while texting.
"She was actually texting, and she hit a lamp post and it ruined the whole car, thank God she is okay, but that's why I never text," said Angulo.
Officers say texting and driving, just don't mix.
"Texting and driving and also speaking while you're operating a vehicle is very dangerous," said Deputy Julio Oseguera with Riverside County Sheriff's Department.
"Driving is not a simple task, it's very complex, it requires 100% of somebody's attention." said Officer Michael Radford with California Highway Patrol.
Texting and driving is dangerous at any speed, but our high speed limits here in the desert could make the combination even more deadly.
"The speed limit is 70 miles an hour here, which is the highest speed limit in California, we probably don't even know how many collisions have been caused by texting," said Officer Radford.
"That's like a shooting bullet going down the street with nobody behind the wheel," said Deputy Oseguera.
It takes a minimum of five seconds to write and send a text message, and if you're sending that text message in five seconds and going 55 miles per hour, that just means you have crossed the length of a football field without looking at the road.
"It's a big issue, we've seen a rise on talking on the phone and texting every since cell phones have become so prevalent, it seems everyone has a cell phone now," said Officer Radford.
Let's take a look at the numbers from the local California Highway Patrol Office.
You can see the rise in violations from nearly 700 in 2011 to 750 in 2012, and this year nearly 1,000 people cited just up until August.
"People are becoming more aware that officers and deputies are issuing citations and we take these matters very seriously, and that way they can pass it to their friends, hey I got a ticket for this, hey get off the phone," said Deputy Oseguera.
Up to August of this year, the sheriff's department says they've cited 21 drivers for texting, nearly 800 for talking on the cell phone and 22 crashes were caused by inattention.
That's just in Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells.
"It's equivalent to having a drunk driver behind the wheel, if you're drunk and you're not paying attention or can't control the vehicle, or if you're texting and talking on the phone, then that's pretty dangerous to the community," said Deputy Oseguera.
So Moran has a message for those who text and drive -- put it away
"Just don't do it, it's really not worth texting your friend 'Oh I'll be there, five more minutes' No text is really worth hurting another person or even hurting yourself."
This is a huge problem that many people just don't think affects them, but it does.
Everyone on the road is at risk by distracted driving.
Thank you for helping us to make the Coachella Valley a better place to live at home, and on the road.