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Beware of distracted drivers

Updated March 14, 2014

Preventing crime is far more effective than enforcing laws in keeping our communities and our residents safe. Among the safer living/crime prevention strategies that are strongly recommended are: immediately calling the Cerritos Sheriff's Station to report suspicious people or cars in your neighborhood; installing a monitored burglar alarm or owning a dog to sound an alert should intruders invade your home; and locking cars and keeping valuables out of sight (or out of the car whenever possible). It is also important to remember that the greatest threat to our residents' wallets and personal safety is not posed by the thieves who often find attractive targets in Cerritos. The more significant threat is when we get into our cars and hit the roads.

Although the figures vary somewhat depending upon the source, in 2011 there were about 32,000 fatal traffic collisions and 1.5 million injury collisions in the United States. In California that number was 2,835 fatal crashes and about 225,000 involving injuries. In 2013 Cerritos recorded 673 traffic collisions, with 216 involving injuries to motorists (including two fatalities). While the focus for decades was on the dangers posed by drunk drivers, over the past several years distracted drivers have become at least equally as dangerous.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, distracted drivers kill nine people in the United States every day. At least 1,000 more people are injured. The problem, as mentioned in a recent "Chicago Tribune" editorial, is due at least in part to the fact that new cars these days have become "smart phones on wheels." Drivers can use voice commands to operate electronic devices, download songs, listen to text messages, and even order a pizza with the new Domino's Pizza app built into some cars.

You can reduce the risk posed by distracted drivers by practicing these safe driving strategies:

  • Concentrate fully on your driving, and be an alert, defensive driver
  • Avoid distractions and don't text or use a cell phone while driving
  • Wear a seat belt at all times
  • Obey the speed limit (speed is a leading cause of traffic collisions)
  • Slow down in inclement weather
  • Never drink and drive, or drive while sleepy or drowsy
  • Don't follow the car ahead too closely, keep a safe distance

As the old "Hill Street Blues" watch sergeant always reminded his officers at roll call, "Let's be careful out there."


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