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Just Drive: County of Santa Clara Launches Education and Enforcement Campaign for Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and County officials have a campaign to bring attention to this risky behavior with stepped up education efforts as well as added enforcement on the roads.

County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who wrote California’s first hands-free cell phone law as a State Senator in 2006, was joined by representatives from the County Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Medical Services at a media event to bring attention to the dangers of distracted driving.

“The technology is great, but we’ve got to use it wisely,” said Simitian. “If you have your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road, and your thoughts somewhere else, that’s a deadly mix. Good laws are a start, but every driver behind the wheel has to follow those good laws to keep us all safe.”


Simitian went on to observe that “in the first year our hands-free law was in effect, we saw a 20% decrease in traffic fatalities here in California – 700 fewer fatalities. That means that every day, somewhere in our state, a couple of people got to sit down with their families for dinner who otherwise wouldn’t have made it through the day.”

The monthlong County campaign features social media posts and ads, including a billboard along Highway 101 in San Jose that reminds people to “just drive.” The campaign website,, asks drivers to pledge to focus on the road, silence the distractions, and speak up for safety by encouraging friends and family to take the pledge and commit to focused driving.

“The pledge is more than just words – it is a commitment to making our roads safer for everyone,” said Jackie Lowther, the County’s Director of Emergency Medical Services.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving accounts for about 8% of all fatal crashes in the nation.

“It’s a significant challenge, but also one we have total control over,” said Santa Clara County Sheriff Bob Jonsen. “Put your phones down – whatever’s on there will still be there when you reach your destination. Think of it as a life-saving lifestyle change: Don’t take your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel. Just drive.”

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your focus away from the task of safe driving.

According to CHP data, there were more than 2,000 crashes involving a distracted driver in Santa Clara County between 2018 and 2022. Across the United States, crashes caused by distracted drivers claimed 3,522 lives in 2021, according to the NHTSA, and experts say the official number is likely a significant undercount because it is difficult for authorities to definitively prove that a driver was distracted right before a crash.

Law enforcement agencies have the authority to enforce “hands-free” laws, and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office will join other agencies in a monthlong crackdown on motorists using a handheld mobile device. These stops can include an educational reminder about the law, and repeat or severe offenders may be issued a citation.

Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

  • Need to send a text? Pull over and park your car in a safe location.
  • Designate your passenger as your “designated texter” to respond to calls or messages.
  • Do not scroll through apps while driving.
  • Struggling not to text and drive? Put the cell phone in the vehicle’s trunk, glove box, or back seat until you arrive at your destination.

Become an Ally

  • Remind your friends and family: If you’re in the driver’s seat, it’s the only thing you should be doing. No distractions.
  • If your driver is texting or otherwise distracted, tell them to stop and focus on the road.
  • Ask your friends to join you in pledging not to drive distracted. You could save a life.
  • Share your pledge on social media to spread the word — #JustDrive.

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Sunnyvale Department Of Public Safety Receives $76K Grant For Special Traffic Enforcement, Collision Prevention


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