Distracted Driving Problems increase

Disracted driving and its related problems continues to increase in California, according to a new study by the California Office of Traffic Safety.

The study, conducted in April, showed more than one out of ten motorists using a mobile device during the day. Almost 13 percent of drivers use mobile devices compared to 9.2 percent in 2015. OTS stated the actual number may be several percentage points higher considering the difficulty of observing mobile device use in a vehicle.

"These latest numbers are discouraging, but not totally unexpected,” said OTS Director Rhonda Craft.  “The number of smartphones in the United States has gone from zero, 10 years ago, to over 200 million today.  They have become so much a part of our lives that we can’t put them down, even when we know the danger.”

Numbers of distracted drivers continue to increase despite public awareness campaigns aimed at mobile device users. In April, the California Highway Patrol and hundreds of other law enforcement agencies conducted educational and enforcement efforts as part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

in California alone, more than 13,496 citations were issued during April for distracted driving violations.

"Distraction occurs any time drivers take their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel, and their minds off their primary task of driving safely,” CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said.  “Any non-driving activity is a potential distraction and increases the risk of a collision."

According to the CHP Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, traffic fatalities and injuries related to distracted driving increased 5 percent in the past year to 11,090.

"The study results are disturbing,” Commissioner Farrow said.  “Every time someone drives distracted, they are putting themselves, their passengers and everyone on or near the roadway at risk."