Texting While Driving Down. Or Is It?

Texting and driving is illegal and can be very expensive. Yet, so many people keep getting away with it. KMPH's Liz Gonzalez investigated and uncovered why officers are not cracking down on offenders."It's getting harder, people are getting smarter, more deceptive on how they hold their phones," said Sergeant Anthony Dewall, who helps supervise the traffic division at the Fresno Police Department.Sgt. Dewall said, "You're answering a call, trying to dial a number, trying to text. Texting is obviously more distracting than having a conversation on the phone, both of which are huge distractions."Distracted driving can cause a delay in response time, which at highway speeds, could be 8 or 9 cars in distance before you hit the brake.Not only does it increase your risk of accidents, it also can cost you when you get ticketed. The first offense is about $140 and you can get cited just for having a cell phone in your hand."Cell phone citations are the second highest citation behind speeding. It is a huge problem here in the city," said Sgt. Dewall.Over the last 3 years, Fresno police have written more than 23,000 citations, and the number has gone down every year. While on the surface it may seem like more people are following the law, it could just be a budget issue. "Honestly, I think it's more the product of our staffing being decreased. We've decreased staffing in the last three years. Not just traffic, but citywide. We're writing less citations because we have less officers out there," said Sgt. Dewall.Fresno police tell us that contrary to popular belief, there is no quota they need to meet on the number of tickets they hand out. They also only get pennies on the dollar of every ticket that's issued. Most of the money goes to the state and county.

Even though there are staffing shortages, Fresno traffic police officers do single out one day a month to focus on those texting or talking while driving.