GLENDALE, Calif. - April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In California just under 30% of crashes are directly related to cell phone use while driving, according to the California Highway Patrol, especially with young people.
The CHP hosted FOX 11 on a ride along Monday, as the department worked to enforce distracted driving on local freeways. Officer Alec Pereyda with CHP said distracted driving has increased dramatically on SoCal freeways.
"When they are on their GPS, they think ‘I am just on my GPS, I am not texting, not on the phone talking,’ they don't even realize its illegal," said Pereyda.
In California, the fine for a first time texting while driving violation is a minimum of $162, with subsequent fines being even higher, according to documents from the CHP's website.
The main issue however is how dangerous distracted driving is.
"It's actually the highest killer in teen drivers, it's that cellphone driving," Pereyda said. "Just looking away from the road for two seconds, if you are going 65 mph, you can be traveling hundreds of feet."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,522 people were killed by distracted driving in 2021. To help curb distracted driving, the organization recommends pulling over if you need to send a text, making your passenger your "designated tester," or even putting your phone in the trunk if you can't resist the urge to touch your phone while on the road.
"We are trying to change the culture," Pereyda said. "We are just trying to get in their minds cause right no it's a big issue we are having with young adults."