Crack-down hits distracted drivers

GLENDALE — One by one, Police Det. Ashraf Mankarios on Saturday blew his whistle and directed motorists who had been spotted using hand-held cellphones over to a growing line of cars.

They too had been pulled over to find an officer and a ticket waiting.

The vehicles were exiting the Ventura (134) Freeway on the South Glendale Avenue off-ramp where police had set up a enforcement operation, part of a growing effort to clamp down on distracted driving in Glendale.

Most motorists immediately put down their phones when they saw the officer, but by then, it was too late.

The lead officer radioed a description of the violation and vehicle to Mankarios, who then walked out into the busy street, blew his whistle and signaled the driver to the curb.

On Saturday, officers issued 66 citations to motorists for using their cellphones while behind the wheel. Another eight motorists were cited for texting while driving, while five others were cited for speeding and road violations.

“It’s getting quite prevalent,” Sgt. Dennis Smith said of distracted driving. “I think we need to do something to stem the tide.”

In most stops during the operation, the motorists admitted to talking on the phone while driving.

Motorists will likely have to pay $145 fine for the citation.

The operation was funded through a $254,795 state grant aimed at decreasing the number of distracted drivers.

Officers have cited approximately 150 motorists during two separate grant-funded distracted-driving operations.

Police have also deployed electronic signs displaying the messages “Hang up and drive,” and “Talk, text, ticket,” on Brand Boulevard.

Still, Smith said, many motorists continue to use hand-held cellphones while driving because the law is still fairly new.

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