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47 cited in Petaluma for using cell phones while driving

Petaluma police and CHP officers, in a joint law enforcement operation Wednesday morning, handed out 47 citations to drivers who illegally used cell phones while driving, police said.

The number of citations was troubling to local law enforcement officials, who said drivers continue to ignore the state's cell-phone laws despite education and enforcement efforts.

Officers conducted the traffic enforcement operation from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., targeting drivers holding cell phones with their hands or texting, Sgt. Ken Savano said.

In a press statement, Savano said that drivers who are distracted or inattentive because they're on a cell phone without a hands-free device are responsible for traffic accidents. He said that since the state cell-phone law went into effect July 1, 2008, there have been 29 investigations in Petaluma of crashes in which a cell phone was illegally used at the time of the crash.

On Tuesday, officers surveyed drivers at East Washington Street and North McDowell Boulevard and found about 10 percent of the drivers were using cell phones illegally, Savano said.

Vehicles surveyed at East Washington Street near Water Street revealed that almost 20 percent of the drivers were talking while holding their cell phones in their hand, he said.

Petaluma officers have given more than 900 citations for the violation since the start date and collision statistics showed rear-end crashes have dropped by almost 10 percent, Savano said.


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