A crackdown on Bay Area drivers making cell phone calls without hands-free devices has widened this year -- with more tickets issued and more police agencies taking part on the first of two days this month as part of stepped-up enforcement.
CHP officers ticketed 350 Bay Area motorists Tuesday, representing a 17 percent increase over the 300 tickets issued last year by the CHP on the first day of the zero tolerance campaign. A second day of enhanced enforcement is scheduled for Wednesday in the Bay Area.
Fines are at least $20 for a first offense, authorities say, with court costs bringing those charges as high as $100.
"Distracted driving is a serious safety issue that contributes to accidents," CHP spokesman Brandie Dressel said.
Also Tuesday, officers from 25 local police agencies joined in the enforcement effort, issuing a total of 550 citations.
A handful of agencies in Contra Costa and Alameda counties -- including those from Pittsburg, Dublin, Livermore, Danville and Pleasanton -- took part, issuing a total of 107 tickets. Figures from last year were not available because the agencies were part of the extra enforcement effort for the first time.
Officers from 15 police agencies within Santa Clara County issued 440 tickets, up from the 350 citations they issued last year, according to figures tabulated by the CHP.
Another five Bay Area agencies also joined the program this year and also ticketed drivers who
The zero-tolerance campaign began last year in the Bay Area with participation from the CHP and police agencies in Santa Clara County.
State law also bars drivers from sending text messages, and prohibits drivers younger than 18 from using cell phones even if they use a hands-free device.