April may be the cruelest month according to poet T. S. Eliot, but according to the California legislature this month is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
In 2015, distracted driving collisions killed 3,477 people and injured 391,000. Reading or sending a text takes 4.6 seconds, but a collision can happen in three. Fourteen percent of all crashes in 2015 were the result of distracted driving.
At the quarterly PCH Task Force meeting held in Malibu on April 11, the California Highway Patrol emphasized that any activity that diverts a driver’s can lead to distracted driving.
Eating while driving increases the risk of causing a collision by two times; grooming (such as applying mascara or shaving while driving) increases the risk by three times; reading while driving increases the risk by four times; reaching for an item, such as dropped phone, increases the risk by nine times; and texting increases one’s risk by 23 times.
On January 1, 2017, California distracted driving laws changed, making it illegal to hold and operate a cell phone or wireless communications device while driving a motor vehicle. A $162- dollar ticket is the minimum fine.