California aiming to toughen up on texting while driving

In the past five years, Sen. Joe Simitian has come up with four different bills to fight distracted driving. In 2006, he came up with a measure to prohibit the use of a handheld cell phone while driving. A year later, drivers under the age of 18 were forbidden to use any mobile device while driving, whether handheld or hands-free. Then in 2008, banning texting while driving was the new priority. Three years later, it was time to get stricter on those texting drivers.

Under Senate Bill 28, the fine for getting caught with a phone in your hand or texting while driving would increase from $20 to $50 for a first offense, and from $50 to $100. With court costs and additional fees, it would translate in fines between $310 and $530. Moreover, drivers will be awarded one point towards their license starting from the second offense.

Motorists are not the only ones aimed by the law. All distracted driving measures will also apply to bicyclists, for whom fines would be of $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense.

After the bill received approval from the California Senate in a 23-13 phone, Sen. Simitian was hopeful the new law would convince more drivers to stop their dangerous behavior.

“While the numbers show that compliance is good and that California’s hands-free law is working, we can do better and save even more lives,”

The legislation is now waiting on Gov. Jerry Brown for the final approval.

Source: Palo Alto Online, August 15, 2011

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