Redlands Police Department urges drivers to stay safe and ‘get off your apps’ this Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Officers are on the lookout this April for drivers suspected of violating the hands-free cell phone law.

Redlands Police Department urges drivers to stay safe and ‘get off your apps’ this Distracted Driving Awareness Month
April is distracted driving awareness month. (Photo: by Golib)

REDLANDS, Calif. — The Redlands Police Department is encouraging residents to “put safety in the driver’s seat” this April for Distracted Driving Awareness Month. 

Why it matters: Our phones practically live in our hands, which is why more than 74% of drivers surveyed in the 2023 California Statewide Public Opinion Survey said that distracted driving due to texting was their biggest safety concern. 

This concern is not misplaced. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sending or reading a text can take your eyes off the road for 5 seconds, which, if you're driving at 55 mph, is like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. 

Details: Throughout the month of April, the police department will be actively looking for drivers in violation of the state’s hands-free cell phone law. 

Currently, drivers are not allowed to hold a phone or other electronic communications device while behind the wheel, even when stopped at a red light. This includes talking on the phone, texting or using apps. 

The penalty for using a device while driving is a fine. If there is a second violation within 36 months of a prior conviction, a point will be added to the driver’s record. 

What they’re saying: “In today’s fast-paced life, it is common to lose focus while driving,” Redlands Police Sgt. Ryan Steinhaus said. “Distracted Driving Awareness Month is a crucial reminder that even a moment of inattention or a quick glance at the phone can lead to serious consequences. Let’s get off our apps and keep our eyes on the road. Before starting the car, silence your phone or put it in the glove box, trunk or back seat. Anywhere you can’t reach.”

Zoom out: In 2022, 3,308 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Since 2016, distracted driving was a factor in between 8% and 9% of fatal crashes nationwide. 

In California, at least 140 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2021, but the numbers are likely higher as law enforcement officers may not always be able to tell if distraction was a factor in a crash.

Moving forward: If an important call, text or email comes through, or if you need to look up directions, the police department urges drivers to pull over to a safe parking spot. 

Other distractions that can be dangerous while operating a vehicle include eating, grooming, reaching for items, putting on or taking off clothing and talking with passengers in the back seat. 

“A driver’s focus should be on the road, not their phone,” Redlands Police Cpl. Martin Gonzalez said. “That text, phone call, email or social media post is not worth the risk to yourself and other people on the road.”

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