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Silicon Valley Crackdown on Distracted Drivers

Mon Aug 10, 2009 - 4:16 PM EDT - By Annie Latham

"There are so many motorists in California who would never consider drinking and driving, yet somehow they make the decision to text or e-mail while driving," said Jenny Mack, a AAA representative.

Back in July, we talked about a story that ran in The New York Times about the dangers of driving distracted.

You'll recall it started off with this sentence: "You can't legislate against stupidity."

While that may be true, what you can do is make stupidity be expensive and a waste of time. At least, that seems to be the game plan in Silicon Valley (California) on Tuesday. Similar to those sobriety checkpoint initiatives that happen around the holidays, this time the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and local authorities will be aggressively cracking down on "drivers using hand-held cell phones or — even worse — texting while motoring down the road." Per a Mercury News story by Gary Richards, the crackdown will be focused in Santa Clara County, with the CHP, sheriff deputies and police from San Jose, Sunnyvale, Morgan Hill, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Santa Clara and Campbell taking part in the effort.

California prohibits drivers from using a hand-held phone or texting. The law doesn't cure the problem of drivers being terribly distracted when talking with hands-free devices. And numerous studies say the chief distraction comes not from having two hands on the wheel but having one's mind focused on a phone conversation and not the road ahead. The concentration on the phone call is so great that some experts say it's almost like driving drunk.

If you haven't done it yet, check out the driving simulator that accompanied the NY Times article.

The rule in our household is "drive first." Let this shot across the bow be a (another)warning to all of us.


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