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GPD, DPW discuss distracted driving

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April is Distracted Driver Awareness Month and if you are caught talking or texting on your cell phone then you are breaking the law and could wind up paying some hefty fines, or worse - end up injuring yourself or someone else.

It may be against the law, but you see it happening all the time: motorists driving while talking or texting on their phones. In fact, Department of Public Works highway safety coordinator Cil Javier says last year there were 462 drivers pulled over for using their cell phones this is an increase from previous years. "So at any time you are out on the road and an officer sees that you are holding a cell phone or you are texting, then you will be issued a citation," she warned.

According to the Guam Police Department's Sergeant Roc Anciano, since Monday 40 violations have been issued. But motorists using a cell phone while driving is not the only way a driver becomes distracted at times some drivers can be seen putting on makeup or having a burger in one hand and fries in the other. But Anciano says that is not against the law, noting, "Multitasking is not a crime, but there is a time and a place and it's not while you're driving as it only takes a split-second for you to be distracted and cause an accident."

To prevent crashes and to save lives you need to put the phone down and keep your chins up. If a driver is going to use a cell phone the law states that you must pull over to the side of the road.

DPW director Glenn Leon Guerrero says drivers need to remember safety at all times, telling KUAM News, "We obviously want you to be focusing on the road have both hands on the wheel. You've got to have full control of the car or the vehicle, but by the strict letter of the law we don't have laws that say you can't eat or do other things which really distract you from driving." Sergeant Anciano added, "We do agree that it is distracted driving - there is just nothing we can enforce."

If you are caught driving and using your cell phone, there are some pretty hefty fines you may end up having to pay. "The first offense is $125, the second would be $625, and then if you get into an accident because of distracted driving it is a harsher higher fine. I think it is at $1,250, according to the new rates that was provided to us by Traffic Court," Anciano said.

It is important to remember that one text or call could wreck it all.

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