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LA Police Pledge Crackdown On Texting While Driving

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Cars drive by a sign notifying of a new texting while driving law in California. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Cars drive by a sign notifying of a new texting while driving law in California. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) —Drivers who can’t keep their thumbs on the wheel have a new incentive to get a grip.

Police said Monday they plan to participate in California’s first “Distracted Driving Awareness Month”, a statewide “zero tolerance” enforcement crackdown on drivers texting or using their cell phones without hands-free technology.

Chris Cochran with the state office of Traffic Safety tells KNX 1070 while it’s always difficult to enforce the actual process of sending a text message while driving, the dangers are very real.

“By dialing a phone, by looking for a phone number, and certainly while texting, you’re probably driving the length of a football field without even knowing where you’re going or what’s going on in front of you,” said Cochran.

Officials said studies reveal that drivers who use handheld devices are four times as likely to be involved in serious traffic crashes that result in injuries.

Younger, inexperienced drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.

Studies also shown that texting while driving delays a driver’s reaction time just as severely as having a blood alcohol content of a drunken driver.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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