CPD to focus on distracted drivers
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By Dave Williams  March 29, 2013 12:00 am

"Pay attention and drive” is the message Cotati’s Police Dept. is sending out during April as part of the Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign.

Chief Mike Parish announced his department will be actively ticketing those who are texting or operating hand-held cell phones on Wednesday, April 3 and Tuesday, April 16.

Drivers caught breaking the law will be cited with no warnings. The current minimum ticket is $159, with subsequent tickets costing at least $279.

“We all know that talking on our cell phones while driving is distracting, but that doesn’t stop some people from continuing to do it,” Parish said. “This effort is intended to educate our community about the dangers of cell phone use while driving. We hope that once people see the statistics and realize the dangers involved, they will change their driving habits to help protect themselves, their families and others on the road.

Collisions caused by distracted driving has resulted in the deaths of hundreds and the injury of thousands in recent years. Nationally, an estimated 3,331 died in 2011 as a result of distracted drivers.

In 2010, 2-year-old Cali Murray was killed and her mother, Ling Murray, suffered serious injuries when they were hit while crossing the street in a crosswalk at Snyder Lane and Medical Center Drive in Rohnert Park. The driver, Sonoma State University student Kaitlyn Dunaway, was texting when she collided with the mother and child.

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

The Cotati PD has offered the following tips to avoid a distracted driving ticket or crash:

• Turn off your phone and/or put it out of reach while driving.


• Include in your outgoing message that you can’t answer the phone while you are driving.


• Don’t call or text anyone at a time you think they may be driving.

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