Garden Grove Police won’t tolerate distracted driving and other traffic violations

By Lou Ponsi

In an effort to save lives, the Garden Grove Police Department is taking a zero-tolerance approach to distracted driving, jaywalking and bicyclists disobeying traffic laws.

Members of GGPD’s Accident Reduction Team have issued more than 300 citations since they started strictly enforcing laws in August.

“We try to educate through enforcement,” Motor Officer Tom Capps said.

The proactive approach is in response to a nationwide spike in fatal accidents involving distracted drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, along with nine fatal traffic accidents in Garden Grove this year.

“And accidents with bikes and pedestrians are up, too,” Capps said.

While it is difficult to prove, some of the fatalities in Garden Grove are likely attributable to distracted driving, he said.

Capps said he recently cited a cyclist who was illegally riding his bike against traffic and later observed the cyclist driving on the right side of the road.

A study conducted by the California Office of Traffic Safety in April revealed that at least 12.8 percent of the state’s drivers were observed using a mobile device during the day, up from 9.2 percent in 2015 and surpassing the previous high of 10.8 percent in 2013.

Garden Grove Police Officers Ronnie Reyes, left, and Tom Capps help students cross the street participating in National Walk to School Day in front of Enders Elementary before the start of class.

Garden Grove PD Motor Officers Ronnie Reyes, left, and Tom Capps help students in front of Enders Elementary cross the street on National Walk to School Day last week. File photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Since observing mobile devices used in a vehicle, the figures are considered minimums, with actual usage likely several points higher, police said.

In September, the GGPD partnered with the OTS, other law enforcement agencies, pedestrian advocates and walking clubs in the “California Pedestrian Safety Month,” an initiative that focuses on re-educating commuters on traffic safety rules, and the importance of safely sharing roads.

“With the growing obsession on texting and social media, distracted driving has become an epidemic, and distracted walking has become an increasingly serious problem, not just in Garden Grove, but nationwide,” Police Chief Todd Elgin said. “More and more people are getting injured and killed for something that could wait. This is something we all have to think about.”

GGPD’s Accident Reduction Team will continue getting their message out through the city’s website, social networking, media outlets, presentations and community meetings.

For more information, contact the GGPD Community Liaison Division at 714-741-5760.