The California Highway Patrol will turn its attention to distracted drivers this weekend, cracking down on people dancing too much to drive, texting instead of turning and holding their phones instead of the wheel.
The campaign runs Friday through Sunday.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving was reported in 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009, and 16 percent of crash fatalities that year were in accidents where the driver's full attention wasn't on the road.
Officers may not pull someone over who is simply listening to the radio, but if the groove has grabbed too much of the driver's attention—to the point that driving is negatively affected—the driver could be in trouble, CHP Officer Mary Bailey said.
The same goes for eating, putting on makeup, talking to passengers, reading books and maps, grooming and other distracting activities.
The NHTSA describes three main types of distraction:
- Visual: Taking your eyes off of the road.
- Manual: Taking your hands off of the wheel.
- Cognitive: Taking your mind off of what you're doing.
In fatal crashes in 2009, drivers aged 30 to 39 comprised the greatest proportion distracted by cell phones (24 percent). Sixteen percent of drivers under age 20 in fatal crashes were distracted, according to the NHTSA.
To go along with the distracted driving campaign, the CHP has spotlighted four of the most frequently asked questions surrounding hands-free laws, and provided answers:
Q: Does the “hands-free” law prohibit you from dialing a wireless telephone while driving or just talking on it?
A: The law does not prohibit dialing, but drivers are strongly urged not to dial while driving.
Q: Is it legal to use a Blue Tooth or other earpiece?
A: Yes, however you cannot have BOTH ears covered.
Q: Does the hands-free law allow you to use the speaker phone function of your wireless telephone while driving?
A: Yes, as long as you are not holding the phone.
Q: DRIVERS UNDER 18: Am I allowed to use my wireless telephone hands free?
A: NO. Drivers under the age of 18 may not use a wireless telephone, pager, laptop or any other electronic communication or mobile services device to speak or text while driving in any manner, even hands free. EXCEPTION: Permitted in emergency situations to call police, fire or medical authorities. (VC §23124).