MARTINEZ -- Dovetailing with a monthlong national campaign, police are planning an April crackdown to discourage motorists from distracting themselves with text messaging and cell-phone use.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness month. From April 3 to 18, Martinez police will conduct zero-tolerance enforcement against drivers too involved with their mobile devices to give sufficient attention to the road.

A citation costs a minimum of $159, jumping to $279 with successive violations.

"Distracted driving is a very serious issue," said Chief Gary Peterson.

Police cited figures claiming motorists using handheld devices while driving are four times more likely to be injured in a crash. They also argue that text messaging can slow traffic reaction time to that of a legally drunk driver, and that phone conversations can result in "inattention blindness" that occurs even if someone is lawfully using a cell phone with a hands-free accessory.



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