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In-car devices increase crash risk by a factor of three

In-car devices increase crash risk by a factor of three

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and Lakewood Station deputies are reminding drivers of the importance of staying focused when behind the wheel. Along with promoting prevention messages, law enforcement agencies in California traditionally step up enforcement with “zero tolerance” operations.

In Lakewood, using a cell phone is the most common form of distracted driving witnessed by deputies. In 2014, Fines for using a cell phone can be as high as $162 and fines for other distractions that can lead to collisions and make the roads unsafe can be as high as $238.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. Other NHTSA examples include texting, eating or drinking, grooming, reading, using navigation systems, adjusting a radio and interacting with passengers.

NHTSA reports that 10 percent of drivers of all ages under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash and drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes. They also report that the tasks associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increase the risk of getting into a crash by three times.

It is important to realize that while traveling 55 mph and texting, your eyes are off the road long enough to cover the length of a football field, which drastically reduces reaction time.

In California it is illegal for any driver to use a handheld phone or text while driving and it is illegal for any driver under 18 to use the hands-free option as well.

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