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Drive safely to prevent accidents

Updated December 23, 2009

Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in people ages 15 to 20. Twenty percent of fatal car accidents are caused by teenage drivers. According to the National Safety Council, the following things can contribute to accidents:

  • Distractions
  • Speed
  • Misjudging stopping and merging distances
  • Vehicle performance
  • Road conditions

Drivers of any age can suffer distractions behind the wheel. Southern California is inundated with vehicles, and motorists often attempt to perform multiple tasks while driving, placing themselves and others on the road in great danger.

The Cerritos Sheriff's Station/Community Safety Center would like to remind you that driving requires your undivided attention. This applies to driving under any conditions, although the likelihood of an accident increases with inclement weather, darkness and higher speeds.

Cell phone use is among the major factors that lead to distracted motorists. Three of five drivers use cell phones or other devices to talk or text while driving. Doing either one is against the law unless you are using a hands-free device. Drivers often hold the phone in one hand, obstructing their vision on that side of the vehicle. With only one hand free, using turn signals is frequently neglected. Drivers also sometimes gesture with their free hand while in conversation, completely removing any control of the steering wheel.

Cars have been known to drift into adjacent lanes when the drivers are on phone calls. Many drivers become so involved in their conversations that they lose awareness of the flow of traffic and reduce their speed. This is very common on the freeway and often leads to road rage incidents.

Although the first cell phone violation may only cost you $20 and each subsequent violation $50, these figures are just base fines. In California, there are additional fees attached to the base fine that are called penalty assessments. These additional assessments are used for court construction, maintenance of a DNA database, state and county penalty funds and emergency medical services funds. With penalty assessments, a $20 citation can end up costing nearly $162, and a $50 citation $285.

Other things that distract drivers are eating food, other passengers or pets in the vehicle, changing CDs or adjusting the radio, other vehicles on the roadway, reading while driving and scenery. Keep in mind that driving on our congested streets and highways requires your undivided attention at all times.

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