In the past two years, Camp Pendleton has seen an increase in citations given for the use of cellular phones or hand-held devices while operating a vehicle, according to raw data collected by the Provost Marshal’s Office.
The data also shows this type of violation occurs more often in the summer months.
“Cell phone use without a hands-free device is illegal,” said civilian Sgt. Cliff Johnson, the community policing supervisor with PMO. “Using a cell phone while driving not only puts the driver at risk, but also puts other drivers and pedestrians in harm’s way.”
According to California Vehicle Code 23123, “a person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.”
PMO enforces all California traffic laws on base along with any additional cases stated in the base order, said Officer Joseph Torrez, a desk sergeant with PMO.
On base, the provost marshal’s authority and responsibility is to exercise traffic control over all vehicles, private and military, and issue appropriate citations for violations of traffic laws of the state of California, according to Base Order 5000.2L.
“If it looks like you have anything in your hands while you are driving you can get a citation, receive a court date and go before a magistrate,” said Torrez. “Perception is reality.”
Even if the driver has an iPod or other hand-held device that takes their hands off the wheel, they will get pulled over as if they are using a cell phone, he said.
Bluetooth headsets and voice command systems in vehicles are permitted while driving. “Any hand-free device is allowed while operating a vehicle,” said Johnson. “If you don’t have a hand-free device, your best option is pull over to a safe spot and use that time to take or make a call.”
Many campaigns, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, have appeared throughout California to show the devastation distracted driving causes and how to prevent further accidents from occurring.
The NHTSA’s “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All” campaign gives information and statistics about distracted drivers, as well as a new public service announcement unveiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
For more information about the base order and regulations, please contact civilian Sgt. Cliff Johnson at 760-763-2804. For more information about vehicle statistics in California, please visit http://www.nhtsa.gov/.