‘Put the phone down:’ Local law enforcement teams up with AAA to stop distracted driving

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Now a message you’ve heard before, but one that our local law enforcement agencies along with AAA are ramping up this month: don’t use your phone and drive.

A PSA by AAA’s Auto Club kicked off distracted driving awareness month with one message.

“Put down the phone,” as the PSA said.

“The Auto Club’s goal with this initiative is to make distracted driving as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving,” said Auto Club of Southern California Senior Public Affairs Specialist Doug Shupe.

According to AAA, distracted driving kills an average of 9 people and injures over 1000 people every day in America.

California Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Robert Rodriguez answered several questions to clear up confusion.

For example, what if you’re at a red light?

“No, you cannot use your phone…the problem is people will jump on their cell phones as soon as that light turns red…let’s say they’re in the left lane or they’re close to a turning lane…Well that turning lane cycles to green, they’ll see out of their peripheral vision that driver starting to accelerate, they’ll start to accelerate, and then they’ll realize oh man, my light’s still red,” explained Rodriguez.

Last year the CHP responded to 38 crashes in the Bakersfield area where cell phone use was a factor.

The Bakersfield Police Department issued more than 1800 citations over the past two years related to distracted driving, and more are likely to come. 

“We do have a grant from the Office of Traffic Safety and we will be putting extra officers out on the street looking just specifically for distracted driving and those types of offenses and we will be issuing citations,” explained BPD Chief Lyle Martin.

Law enforcement says resist temptation.

“I always recommend people keeping it out of arms reach, that way, you’re not tempted to grab that phone…put it in your glove box and lock it,” said Rodriguez.

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