Sheriff launching campaign aimed at distracted drivers - WSFX - FOX Wilmington, NC

Sheriff launching campaign aimed at distracted drivers

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PIMA COUNTY, AZ ( Tucson News Now) -

Unfortunately scenes like this are becoming all too familiar: distracted drivers all over the road, in and out of traffic, sometimes even up on the curb or sidewalk before straightening themselves out.

"We're trying to make the public more aware of distracted drivers," says Pima County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Gonzales.  "That's what we're putting together this spot."

By spot, Gonzales is referring to a 30 second public service announcement you'll soon be seeing on local television stations. 

The goal: to raise awareness about distracted driving and hopefully curb this behavior among Pima County's motorists.

Cell phone use -- or texting in particular -- is probably the most common form of distracted driving.

But there's also eating, tending to the kids in the backseat or just changing the station on your radio.

"Anything that takes your eyes off the road," Gonzales says.  "That's distracted driving."

As we've seen so many times before, the consequences can be devastating.

"Unfortunately it's extremely prevalent," says Dr. Lynn Butvidas, a trauma center physician at University of Arizona Medical Center.  "We do see a lot of accidents and we have seen some fatalities in the last year secondary to texting and driving -- so this is definitely something that can be easily avoided."

Precisely the idea behind this public service campaign.

To remind drivers about the importance of putting down that phone or cheeseburger and to always keep their attention on the road.

"Most people have that mentality that it doesn't happen to me until it happens to me...so a lot of people still continue to do it," Gonzales says.

Even though the county doesn't have a law that prohibits texting and driving, you can still be ticketed for being distracted.

If you're wondering why it's because more people are killed today by distracted drivers than by those under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

"People who've been texting and driving, they take their eyes off the road and they are just completely distracted," Dr. Butvidas says. "So you are 23 times more likely to get into a car accident than when you're drinking and driving."

As for that public service announcement, the Sheriff's Department hopes to have it finished within the next month or two.

You'll likely start seeing them on TV and hearing the ads over the radio -- both in English and Spanish -- by the beginning of summer.

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