press release - 04011401

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month


Santa Barbara County - April 1st, 2014

During the month of April, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office including the contract cities of Carpinteria, Goleta, Solvang and Buellton are joining law enforcement agencies from across the nation to educate the public about the dangers involved with distracted driving.  The Sheriff’s Office is participating in a campaign that includes both education efforts and increased enforcement actions for drivers that are observed using a communication device while operating a motor vehicle.  The campaign is in response to the 3,328 people that were killed in 2012, along with the 421,000 people that were injured (the most recent figures) in crashes involving distracted driving.

What is distracted driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:

·     Texting

·     Using a cell phone or smartphone

·     Eating and drinking

·     Talking to passengers

·     Grooming

·     Reading, including maps

·     Using a navigation system

·     Watching a video

·     Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

In reality, distractions are anything that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel or your attention away from your primary task of driving. Of all distractions, texting is by far the worst. Texting requires you to take away from all three primary driving tasks. Many people do not think distracted driving or texting is of significant concern, however many studies show those same people are uncomfortable when they are a passenger in a vehicle where the driver is texting.

Our youngest and most inexperienced drivers are most at risk, with 16% of all distracted driving crashes involving drivers under 20. But they are not alone. At any given moment during daylight hours, over 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone or communication device.

Distracted driving is of concern to everyone who operates a motor vehicle. These drivers are on our roads and jeopardize the safety of every other motorist, bicyclist or pedestrian on or adjacent to the roadway.  Although the 3,328 deaths and over 421,000 injuries that occur annually should be concern enough, consider the economic cost of distracted driving as well. Between the fatalities, injuries, damages and lawsuits, the costs associated with distracted driving are staggering. According to the National Safety Council, a Harvard risk analysis study estimated the annual cost of crashes caused by cellphone use to be $43 billion, which amounts to $3.58 billion a month. These costs are transferred to all of us in the form of increased insurance costs and other related fees.

A great deal of education and action has been taken to address the problem of driving while under the influence of alcohol or “drunk driving.” Public education campaigns and increased penalties have had some impact on reducing this type of offense, however it still remains a problem on our roadways. By comparison, drivers who are texting while behind the wheel have a 23% higher chance of causing a crash, 6.7 times more than a legally intoxicated driver. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 miles per hour that is like driving the length of an entire football field, blind. The proportion of alcohol-related traffic crash deaths has dropped 52% since 1982 and are now at historic lows, but the proportion of traffic accident fatalities that are NOT alcohol-related has jumped 78% during the same time. Although there are still far too many, we’re winning the war against alcohol-related traffic deaths but texting related traffic fatalities are an epidemic that we’ve barely begun to address.

Currently the total cost for talking/texting while driving including the court, processing and other fees added on the total ticket cost is about $172.00 in Santa Barbara County. Currently there are a number of state and nationwide efforts to dramatically increase these fines.

For more information on the dangers of distracted driving you can go to the links below.





For Media Inquires Contact PIO Kelly Hoover


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