Police clamp down on distracted drivers

GLENDALE — Police stopped 70 motorists for allegedly using a hand-held cell phone Saturday while driving in the city, officials said.

The grant-funded enforcement operation was part of a larger effort at tamping down on the number of distracted drivers, Glendale Police Sgt. Dennis Smith said. In most cases, motorists stopped during the operation were found to be talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving, he said.

“We want to change the mindset of people in our city,” Smith said.

Six police officers also cited two drivers on suspicion of driving without a valid license, a motorist on suspicion of failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and another was cited in connection with operating an unsafe vehicle, Smith said. Two vehicles were impounded during the operation.

Officers also cited a motorist for driving with a dog in his lap. Another motorist who was talking on a cell phone pulled over on San Fernando Road near Willard Avenue after spotting an officer, Smith said.

The motorist reportedly told the officer, “I know you had me.”

Saturday’s operation was funded through a $254,795 California Office of Traffic Safety grant, which was awarded to help address distracted driving issues in Glendale.

The grant will fund 20 distracted driving enforcement operations, another 22 for speeding, 12 pedestrian education task forces, as well as two details directed at motorcyclists, Smith said.

The state traffic agency has never awarded funding for distracting driving until last year, the department’s spokesman Chris Cochran said.

The state traffic agency, which only started doling money out for distracted driving issues last year, is still waiting for feedback from other grant recipients to determine how many citations have been issued as part of the campaign, spokesman Chris Cochran said.

Using a distracted driving grant, authorities in Sacramento Valley issued 650 citations last month to motorists in several counties and cities, said Sgt. Wayne Ziese, a California Highway Patrol spokesman.

An undercover Glendale police survey last month at two major thoroughfares found that of 800 vehicles, roughly 10% of motorists were distracted while at the wheel.

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