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Santa Monica Police to Crack Down on Cell Phone Use while Driving

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By Lookout Staff

April 1, 2014 -- Drivers texting or talking on a hand-held cell phone are not only breaking the law, they are at a higher risk of causing an accident.

Of the 1.3 million car accidents nationwide, 26 percent are caused by a driver using a cell phone, according to a recent study from the National Safety Council. The study attributed only five per cent to texting while driving.

This month, Santa Monica police will crack down on the all too common behavior, which violates the California vehicle code. California is one of twelve states that completely bans hand-held cell phone use while driving.

“A driver holding a cell phone and using the speaker phone, or as is most commonly seen, holding the cell phone to the ear” whether on speaker phone or not is breaking the law, said Sgt. Jay Moroso, the Police Department spokesman.

He added that “juveniles are not allowed to use cell phones at all while driving with or without an ear piece, and whether or not on speaker phone.”

Communications referred to as a text message, instant message, or electronic mail also constitute a violation, Moroso said.

“’Write, send, or read a text-based communication’ means using an electronic wireless communications device to manually communicate with any person using a text-based communication,” he said.

However, scrolling for a name or phone number in a cell phone, or entering a phone number does not constitute texting, Moroso added.

Each month, the Santa Monica Police Department's Traffic Enforcement Section focuses on different driving behaviors that are the primary causes for traffic collisions. 

“The Santa Monica Police Department asks everyone to drive responsibly, watch the road and avoid being distracted by pulling to the side of the road before using any handheld device,” Moroso said.

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