Behind the wheel? Get off that phone
This isn't new or news, but apparently many people don't get it: It's against the law in California to drive while talking or texting on a hand-held cell phone. It's also dangerous.
We're pleased the Modesto area is part of a crackdown targeting these distracted drivers. It began Friday and continues through Sunday. The Modesto Police Department will be issuing tickets throughout the week. The Modesto office of the California Highway Patrol will focus its enforcements on Saturday, when there will be a lot of people on the road for Christmas shopping.
The campaign theme is Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other. The risk of getting a ticket with a minimum cost of $159 shouldn't be the primary deterrent, however. It should be that, contrary to many drivers' overconfidence, they aren't paying full attention to the road when they're blabbing away on the phone and with texts, usually about something inconsequential.
Authorities urge people to turn off their cell phone or put it out of reach; send a message that you can't answer while driving and don't call or text people when you think you may be driving. Despite education effort and despite occasional crackdowns such as the one under way, motorists continue to text and talk on their cell phones as much and maybe more they did before the first law went into effect in California in 2008.
We're sure Modesto and CHP officers will find it easy pickings this week. And our sympathy level for those who are caught and ticketed? Zero. These laws weren't enacted to generate revenue but to save lives. Safe driving demands the complete attention of every person behind the wheel.