Officers Looking for Motorists During Distracted Driver Awareness Month

Burbank Police Motor Officer Tim Dyrness wearing a new helmet. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

This month, the Burbank Police Department is joining with law enforcement throughout California to bring awareness to distracted driving.

Ten years after “hands-free” laws were put into place to improve safety on the road, there has been a decrease in accidents caused by distracted drivers using their cellphones. However, distracting driving continues to be a major reason for accidents.

Data from 2007 shows there were over 33,000 accidents throughout California that were the result of distracted driving. In 2017, around 22,000 drivers were in traffic accidents that were the result of distracted driving.

“California’s distracted driving laws have been saving lives for a decade now. Every day, somewhere in California, someone is sitting down to dinner with their family who wouldn’t have made it through the day without these laws on the books. That’s tremendously gratifying,” said former State Senator Joe Simitian, author of California’s hands-free and no-texting laws.

April has been declared to be “Distracted Driving Awareness Month,” with the first week as “California Teen Safe Driving Week.”

April 5th and 13th will be the two dates on which police throughout the state will increase enforcement for no-texting traffic safety laws. Through grant-funded resources, additional BPD traffic officers will be monitoring parts of the city where accidents are more frequent. Drivers observed to be on their phones will be ticketed, and a citation of $162 will be given to first time offenders.

For prevention of such accidents, police want to make drivers aware of safe alternatives to using their phones while driving. Police have provided options, such as designating a passenger who can respond to texts or calls on the driver’s behalf. While on the road, drivers can also find a safe place to park to make a phone call or send a message. To avoid the temptation of using their phone altogether, drivers are encouraged to put their mobile device in the backseat or the trunk.

“Distracted Driving Awareness Month” is funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.