New California Bill Increases Fines for Distracted Driving

In a bill drafted by Senator Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, the fine for unlawful use of hand held devices could increase from $20 to $30 dollars.

The said bill, which was approved by the California State Senate last Monday, would increase the current fee of $159 to at least $199 for first offenders once court fees are collected.

For subsequent offense, the fee would increase from $50 to $60 and the actual cost to drivers would increase up to $371 for each additional offense since a driver’s records would also be a factor for additional fees.

The bill would also cover bicyclists. They would be required to pay a $20 fine if they are caught texting or talking while on the road.

The bill aims to fund the driver’s education program aside from preventing further auto-related accidents.

Although lawmakers like Gov. Jerry Brown and Sen. Doug La Malfa, R-Willows, vetoed the said bill, advocates are still pushing for it to become a new law in California.

In a study conducted by the University of California, researchers found out a significant decrease in the number of deaths among drivers using handheld devices in the past two years after the ban on such gadgets was implemented. The number of fatalities, which was 100 a couple of years ago, fell into 53 this year while the number of injuries dropped significantly — from 7,720 to 3,862.

In another survey, 40% of drivers admitted that they have been avoiding cell phones use while behind the wheels since the ban had been enforced.

On the other hand, a Los Angeles auto accident attorney, in reaction with the said survey, agrees with Sen. Simitian that such idea is a good concept not only for avoiding traffic fatalities but also for creating a much closer family ties. Drivers who are prevented from talking to their spouses and other family members would definitely talk a lot of things over family dinner, such as what each of them had missed through the day.