As part of April’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign, the Sonoma Police Department will be joining with more than 200 other local law enforcement agencies and the California Highway Patrol in a month-long “zero tolerance” enforcement and education campaign to curb those texting or operating hand-held cellphones while driving.

Officers will be on alert throughout the month for those who break the cellphone laws and place themselves and others in danger.

As part of a State of California Office of Traffic Safety grant, special high visibility enforcement operations to cite cellphone violators will take place on April 4, 8, 14 and 21.

Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. In addition, studies show that texting while driving can delay a driver’s reaction time just as severely as having a blood alcohol content of a legally drunk driver.

According to research, sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. Even a three-second glance at freeway speeds means a driver has traveled the distance of a football field.

Sonoma Police Chief Bret Sackett takes this issue very serious and is dedicating the department’s resources to ensure everyone is safe on the road. “There is no phone call that can’t wait,” Sackett said. The current minimum ticket cost is $161, with subsequent tickets costing at least $281.