old-cell-phone.jpgThe California Highway Patrol has reported an increase in citations given out to drivers using cell phones during this year’s regional enforcement campaign compared to 2009.

Preliminary figures were released a day after Tuesday’s “zero-tolerance” cell phone campaign, in which local Bay Area law enforcement agencies and the Golden Gate Division of the CHP joined forces to target and ticket individuals talking on the phone or texting while driving.

The CHP issued 350 citations throughout the Bay Area, and law enforcement in Santa Clara County gave out 443 tickets, according to the CHP.

In 2009 on a similar day of enforcement, the CHP gave out 300 citations region-wide and law enforcement in Santa Clara County gave out 350, according to CHP numbers.

The ban on talking on cell phones while driving went into effect on Jan. 1, 2008, and the texting ban was instituted a year later.

CHP Officer Brandie Dressel said the enforcement operation began last year – the first year both bans were in effect – to see “if people were following the law, and to our surprise they weren’t.”

The operation, mostly confined to the Bay Area in 2009, has spread elsewhere in California this year, and “might become a statewide effort soon to keep people off their phones,” Dressel said.

Other Bay Area law enforcement agencies this year ticketed an additional 550 drivers throughout the region.

Law enforcement in Santa Clara County reported the highest cell phone violations in Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and San Jose.

Another regional enforcement operation is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 18, according to Dressel.

While DUI enforcement campaigns usually take place on weekends, when people are more likely to be drinking and driving, Dressel said the cell phone enforcement operations are normally held on weekdays.

“Usually business is taking place Monday through Friday,” she said. “A lot of people are on their commute, and more likely to be utilizing their electronic devices during the week.”

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