The Morgan Hill Police Department is advising motorists that officers throughout April—which is known as Distracted Driving Awareness Month—will be on the lookout for drivers who are in violation of California’s hands-free cell phone law. 

“In today’s fast-paced life, it is common to lose focus while driving,” Morgan Hill Chief of Police Shane Palsgrove said. “Distracted Driving Awareness Month is a crucial reminder that even a moment of inattention or a quick glance at the phone can lead to serious consequences. Let’s get off our apps and keep our eyes on the road. Before starting the car, silence your phone or put it in the glove box, trunk or back seat. Anywhere you can’t reach.”

According to a 2023 statewide public opinion survey, more than 74% of drivers said distracted driving due to motorists texting was their biggest roadway safety concern, says a press release from MHPD. In 2021, at least 140 people died in distracted driving crashes in California—a number that is likely underreported as collision investigators cannot always tell if a distraction was a factor. 

Drivers in California are not allowed to hold a phone or electronic communications device while operating a vehicle, even when stopped at a red light, police said. This includes talking, texting or using an app. 

Using a handheld cell phone while driving is punishable by a fine, and violating the hands-free law for a second time within 36 months of a prior conviction for the same offense could result in a point being added to a driver’s record, MHPD added in the press release.

“If you have an important phone call, text or email, or are in a situation with other distractions, such as looking up directions, pull over to a safe parking spot to complete the task without putting yourself and others at risk,” says the press release. “Other distractions can be eating, grooming, reaching for something that fell on the floor, putting on or taking off clothing, or talking with passengers or children in the back seat.”

Funding for distracted driving enforcement is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, MHPD said.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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