LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Southern Californians are only slightly worse than the rest of the nation when it comes to talking on a telephone or texting while driving, according to a survey released Wednesday by the state Office of Traffic Safety.

KNX 1070’s Tom Reopelle Reports

“This study is highly significant for California,” OTS Director Christopher J. Murphy said. “It gives us a base to measure against in years to come as we combat this serious threat to safety on our roadways.”

A federal study in 2009 showed that about 9 percent of drivers nationwide were talking on cell phones or texting while driving.

The state’s study, billed as the first-ever observational study, was conducted in March. It showed that 9.8 percent of Southern Californians are yakking or texting.

In suburban areas, the numbers were typically higher and about 12 percent of Central Californians were observed talking or texting.

In Northern California, the figure was 6.9 percent.

The study included 130 intersections in 17 counties. Observers took notes on 5,413 drivers holding phones to their ears, wearing a Bluetooth or headset device or those who were texting.

In the first half of April, dubbed Distracted Driving Awareness Month, at least 20,455 drivers were ticketed for holding phones to their ears while driving or texting. Fines range from $159 for a first offense to $279 for a repeat offense.

“This shows how ingrained the use of mobile devices has become. Even faced with laws, studies and stories of tragedy, too many are not able to put down their cell phones,” California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow said.

(©2011 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.)

Comments (17)
  1. drozone69 says:

    Their is already technology in the works which wll I.D. each person’s vehicle and cell phones.When the two are both on,you will simply recieve a ticket in the mail showing where your car was,how fast it was traveling,who you were talking to and for how long.The tickets will vary in price depending on your speed and length of conversation.It will distinguish between blue tooth calls and non hands free calls.If you have a child in the car you will now get a visit from the social servces dept. concerning child endangerment.3 of these tickets in a 2 year period will result in your drivers license bieng suspended.12 major cities are already piloting this technology.It will grow and pass legislation because the country is broke and needs the money you have in the bank or your pocket.

    1. john says:

      what if someone else is using your phone while you’re driving? or vice versa?

    2. Fer says:

      if I’m using a hands-free (permitted in CA) Would I get a ticket as well?

  2. John says:

    I see at least 10 people texting a day on a short 3 mile trip to work. I’m cut off at least 5 times a wek from someone who is texting and driving. People die now everyday from this . I think the laws on this should be REAL stiff! It sucks!

  3. NORM AUTHIER says:


  4. budpicka says:

    A study stated people are 3x more likely to cause a wreck while texting VS. being under the influence.

  5. mrviking says:

    I agree on raising the fine to $500.00 bucks, cuz the $159.00 fine is not getting the message across. The other day walking out of the supermarket to my car, when I witnessed a women driver holding the phone to her ear (talking) without even being aware of a mother with child at hand crossing over to the market? I yelled out to the woman driver “HEY!!! Got off the Phone, there is a child with Mother crossing” She was startled at first and upset , but Geezzz, please pay attention, it was almost a fatality in the making.

  6. Dottie says:

    The California Highway Patrol has nothing to talk about. I drove along side a California Highway Patrol Horse trailer and truck for two miles while the driver chatted on his cell holding it to his hear and from the looks of it, it definantly wasn’t a business call.

  7. sculpty says:

    It seems more like 98% …

  8. Thomas Forcade says:

    I live in calif,and i can tell you that these idiot’s that can’t understand how dangerous it is to talk,let alone text,should get $500 tickets the first time.If i was a cop,i swear i would have writers cramp by the end of my shift everyday.

  9. Jack says:

    The problem in California is that they give driver’s license’s to any idiot. I was at the DMV recently and there was a Hispanic women who just got her driver license, problem is she didn’t speak A WORD OF ENGLISH, NOT ONE. That’s how stupid the people running this state are. Last I checked all the signs are in English, who knows the Liberal’s running California might decide to change all signs to Spanish in order not to “offend” the hispanic population. We get a little rain and all hell breaks lose because half the moron’s on the road don’t know how to drive.

    1. Blues says:

      I was with you until you used the “L” word. Get your head out of your ass you bigot. Why are most republicans such ridiculously stupid racists. There are plenty of stupid white people on the road without high school diploma’s and they cause accidents too. Only God knows why with your level of stupidity and bigotry, you were granted a license.

  10. Ruben N. says:

    I agree that driving while texting tickets should be a little more expensives. I must also say that I’ve noticed what seems like more than half of drivers do not use their turn signals, and I’m sure that most of you would say that you do use your signals, somebody’s lying, I’m sure. I’m also sure that if you ask anybody they’ll tell you that they’re good drivers, yeah right!

  11. a1268702 says:

    I think talking on a phone or texting while driving should be just made illegal period. And treated like a drunk driving offense. It is that serious.

  12. alan hart says:

    Have any of you ever looked at the dash board of a police car? Between phones, radios, computers…it’s amazing they can drive at all. Next time you get a ticket for driving while distracted, snap a photo of the police car’s dashboard and present it to the judge in your defense.

  13. Shauna says:

    I think that talking on a cell phone isn’t any more dangerous than eating or so many other things we do.
    I for one routinely talk on my phone, 23 years driving and no accidents in the past 20 years or traffic ticket ever.
    People get in accidents everyday without the help of cell phones and many people talk on them often without accidents or tickets.

    1. Shauna's A Moron says:

      You’re an idiot. Get off the phone and drive. You want to talk on the phone, get off the road.

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