CHP launches effort against distracted driving

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Distracted Driving PicSAN DIEGO — April is distracted driving awareness month and local law enforcement officers have launched a major offensive against what they call a growing issue.

“Our hope is we’re making an impact every time we give this class,” said CHP Officer Jake Sanchez of the new class offered to local groups and businesses about the dangers of distracted driving.

An estimated 3300 people were killed in the US last year because of distracted driving.

“Every nine seconds there’s a crash in the United States involving someone driving down the freeway talking on their cell phone,” said Officer Sanchez.

During Friday’s class in Mission Valley, Sanchez showed videos of people impacted by crashes involving distracted drivers.  He said it’s as dangerous as drunk driving.

“You’re just as likely to crash if you drunk driving as if you’re driving down the road talking on your phone, legally or illegally hand held or on a blue tooth,” he explained.

Friday’s course was offered to the Deaf Community Services.

“Statistically deaf people are safer drivers,” said Bobby Crocker, who is hearing impaired, of the misconceptions concerning deaf drivers.  “We’re able to still pay attention to the road even without hearing.”

The program, funded through the CHP and UCSD, offers the same message to the hearing as well as hearing impaired.

“I will definitely be changing how I drive,” said Shannon Gilleand. “I have a very bad habit of checking my phone while I’m driving, and I do drive distracted and I know that from now I will turn my phone off.”

She added that life is too precious to be lost in such a senseless way.