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AAA launches pledge week to reduce distracted driving

By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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AAA is hoping drivers will take a trip back in time for a week this month. The automobile association is asking motorists to ditch distractions like cell phones, text- ing and eating while driving during Oct. 5-11 for Heads Up Driving Week. “Try it for a week, that’s all we ask,” Matt Skryja, AAA Northern California spokesman, said in a press release. “It only takes an instant for a crash to occur. We hope that by driving distraction-free for a week, people can pick up the habit for life.” California state law requires a hands-free device for cell-phone use and texting is illegal while driving, Skryja added. “Using a cell phone, text messaging or e-mailing are just some of the many possible distractions that divert drivers’ attention,” he said. “Eating, talking with passengers, reading maps or the newspaper, writing, personal grooming and looking at things outside the vehicle are among countless activities that could create a substantial crash risk.” In Auburn, there was mixed reaction to the campaign. Jodie Luckett, owner of Cheryl’s Clothes Closet in Downtown Auburn, was very supportive. “I think it’s awesome,” she said. “I drive from Citrus Heights every day and don’t use my cell phone. I do drink sodas though, but (that week), I can wait until I get here.” At The Pizza Place a few doors down, delivery driver Peter Newman doesn’t think AAA’s idea will be very popular. “I do talk on the phone (while driving),” he said. “I don’t think there’s going to be as big a turnout as people would want. For me, the cell phone would be very difficult to give up.” Lisa Swisley, owner of Tango, Downtown’s new yogurt shop, thinks it is a good idea. “I would be more likely to try to do it,” she said about participating. “It would be hard to give up talking on the cell phone while I’m driving because that’s usually when I’m doing my phone calls.” But Meadow Vista resident Nathan Esway gives the campaign a thumbs down. “I think it’s really (ridiculous),” he said. “I’m a multi-tasker. I don’t agree with the cell phone law. Some people shouldn’t talk on their cell phone while driving because they’re not capable, but that’s not me.” For Renee Ghisletta of Auburn, it’s a non-issue. “I wouldn’t do it anyway, because I drive a scooter,” she said. At Verizon Wireless on Highway 49, store manager Troy Nick is very supportive of the AAA initiative. “I don’t know if you can stop people from (using their cell phones while driving), but it’s a good idea,” he said by phone. “They made that law for a reason.” AAA is encouraging drivers to sign a pledge that they won’t take their eyes off the road during the designated seven days. Gloria Young can be reached at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com