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Crackdown on distracted drivers underway

Local law officers want drivers to put down their cell phones and reduce the chance of an accident.

They are joining a statewide effort in April to target distracted drivers. Extra patrols will be on the roads to pull over and cite drivers who are talking on their phones, texting or doing anything that is a distraction while they are behind the wheel.

California Highway Patrol Captain Marty Maples said, his officers want the public to help keep the roads safe and notify the CHP of dangerous drivers.

“Often times officers report that motorists see other motorists violating the law saying that person up there is talking on their cell phone or doing something that’s distracting,” said Maples.

“It drives me bonkers,” said a driver from Santa Ynez, Ashley Pollock. “I’ve known enough people who’ve almost been hit (because of texting and driving.)”

An Orcutt resident has seen the tragic results of distracted driving and say more needs to be done to get compliance.

“I don’t think there’s less of it. I think it’s increasing. Everyone has a phone and everyone thinks they can use it while they are driving and I think it’s a myth,” said Eilene Okerblom who lost her son, Eric, in a distracted driver accident in 2009.

She urged drivers to stay off the phone and focus on the road.

“When you send or receive a text message, the average amount of time your eyes are off the road is four seconds,” said Okerblom.

The starting fine for a distracted driver is $159.

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