District Attorney, SFPD and CHP Call Attention to Dangers of Distracted Driving

April 11, 2013

Contact: Stephanie Ong Stillman, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1167 or (415) 740-5134
ADA Alex Bastian, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1931

SAN FRANCISO – On the heels of a March 2013 California Appellate Court decision that ruled it’s illegal to hold your phone while driving, District Attorney George Gascón was joined by Commander Mikail Ali from the San Francisco Police Department and Captain BJ Whitten from the California Highway Patrol to call attention the dangers of distracted driving.

“Distracted driving is not only dangerous, it’s a crime,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “The alarming rate of pedestrian injuries and traffic collisions in San Francisco can be easily attributed to distracted driving.”

According to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority, 60% of pedestrian traffic injuries and fatalities in San Francisco occur in crosswalks compared to 45% for the entire state of California and 44% for New York City. Law enforcement officials pointed to San Francisco’s dense urban environment and distracted driving as one of the reasons why San Francisco leads the state with this statistic. Distracted driving is anything you are doing that takes your attention away from the road - texting, using your cell phone, eating and drinking, reading, using a navigation system, changing the music.

“Texting and using your cell phone while driving is just not worth it,” said Commander Mikail Ali from the San Francisco Police Department.

According to Captain BJ Whitten from the California Highway Patrol, in 2011, 3331 people were killed nationally and over 400,000 were injured as a result of distracted driving crashes. Last April, the California Highway Patrol issued over 57,000 tickets for driving and texting, up from 52,000 in 2011.

District Attorney Gascón stated that there are serious and sometimes tragic consequences to distracted driving and hopes the public will take responsibility for reducing distracted driving. “There are enough distractions on our streets. The fight to end distracted driving starts with the public,” said District Attorney Gascón.

Law enforcement officials are calling on the public to help protect lives by never texting or talking on the phone while driving, being a good passenger and speaking out if the driver is distracted, and encouraging friends and family to drive phone-free.

For more information on distracted driving, go to: http://www.distraction.gov