News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


Subject :

Palo Alto Police Department to Hold ‘Zero Tolerance’
Distracted Driving Enforcement Operation
Contact : Agent Jason Jenkins, Palo Alto Police Department    650-329-2413
CHP PIO Sgt. Trenton Cross, California Highway Patrol    707-648-4180
Palo Alto, CA – As part of this month's "Distracted Driving Awareness Month" campaign, the Palo Alto Police Department will be showing "zero tolerance" to those texting or operating hand-held cell phones between April 1, 2011 and April, 30, 2011.  Drivers who break the law and place themselves and others in danger will be cited.  The current minimum fine for the fist offense is $159, with subsequent offenses costing at least $279.

Distracted driving is a serious traffic safety concern that puts everyone on the road at risk.  As a result, law enforcement across the state, including Palo Alto are increasingly cracking down on cell phone use and texting.  This April will see over 225 local agencies plus the 103 CHP Area Commands conducting "zero tolerance" enforcements.  

“We take the issue of distracted driving very seriously.” said Palo Alto Police Chief Dennis Burns. “Cell phone use and texting while driving is such a serious concern that we are putting officers on the road to enforce zero tolerance; is that text message or cell phone call really worth $159?”

Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. Younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.  In addition, studies show that texting while driving can delay a driver’s reaction time just as severely as having a blood alcohol content equal to that of a legally drunk driver.

Studies also show that there is no difference in the risks between hands-free and hand-held cell phone conversations, both of which can result in “inattention blindness” which occurs when the brain isn’t seeing what is clearly visible because the drivers’ focus is on the phone conversation and not on the road.