(CBS SF) – The California Highway Patrol and law enforcement agencies throughout the state on Monday were kicking off a month-long crackdown on drivers who text or talk on the phone while behind the wheel.
All through April, which is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the CHP is putting more officers on state roadways, and local police will be scouring city streets for drivers using hand-held cellphones, CHP spokesman Officer Elon Steers said.READ MORE: Christmas Tree At Oakland's Jack London Square Catches Fire; Arson Investigation Underway
“In an effort to gain the public’s attention, we are making an extra effort to enforce those violations this month,” Steers said.
During a similar effort in April 2012, more than 57,000 tickets were issued to motorists around the state for texting or talking on the phone, he said.
The average fine for a first offense starts around $160, he said, though the fine can be as high as $300 depending on the jurisdiction.
“It totally depends on the county and different court fees,” Steers said.
Distracted driving contributes to thousands of accidents a year and can slow a driver’s reaction time as much as driving drunk, Steers said.
“Recent statistics show that an overwhelming majority of accidents are in some way due to distracted driving,” he said.READ MORE: Armed Robbery, Shooting Injures 1 in San Francisco; Suspect Arrested