Possible New Fines for Distracted Driving in California

Distracted driving, such as changing the radio or a CD, talking to passengers, looking outside at things other than the road, using a cell phone, or text messaging is a major cause of accidents because it prevents the driver from focusing on the complete task of driving. Interactive devices and navigational tools can also distract drivers. More and more states and localities are banning specific distractions. Yesterday, according to sfexaminer.com,a new bill aimed distracted driving was sent to Governor Jerry Brown by the Senate. If he signs the bill, fines for drivers who refuse to go hands-free while using their cell phones will increase. The base fine for texting or calling while holding a cell phone would increase from $20 to $50. Court fees would drive the cost from about $180 to $300, says the author, Democratic Sen. Joe Simitian of Palo Alto. Repeat offenders could be fined $100 or up to $528 with fees and get one point added to their driving record. Republican Sen. Ted Gaines of Roseville objected to increasing fines in a poor economy. Simitian responded by saying, “As long as you follow the law, there’s no fine.” He believes SB28 will save lives by deterring distracted driving.

The Governors’ Highway safety Association recommends that states around the country take appropriate measures to cut down on distracted driving. Actually, they are aiming at debunk the theory that hands-free is safer than using a hand-held cell phone. According to their findings there is no evidence indicating that the use of hands-free sets are any safer than handheld sets, and a Virginia Tech study indicated hands-free systems may be beneficial. Yet studies from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety at the University of Utah and Carnegie Mellon have reported that all cell phone use is distracting. They recommend several steps to combat the increasing problem of distracted driving. They recommend the federal government should do following:
• Fund research to develop effective methods for enforcing texting and cell phone bans.
• Fund research to determine the nature and scope of the distracted driving problem.
• Fund a media campaign to alert the public to dangers of distracted driving.
• Develop model policies for employers encouraging them to ban cell phone use/texting by all employees driving for business purposes.
• Provide financial incentives for states that pass comprehensive graduated licensing laws that include cell phone/texting bans for new drivers.
• Support technologies solutions that minimize driver distraction.

The success of such efforts depends on the combination of awareness and enforcement, which are the most effective means of ensuring compliance, as we still have not seen much success with anti-distracted driving laws. Even though California has laws banning handheld cell phone use and texting while driving, we have not seen a dramatic decline in such behaviors. It looks like we have a way to go before new driving behaviors become hard-wired in this state. Distracted driving laws are the begining and base for any campaigns against distraced drving to tak flight. Remember all drunk driving and seatbelt campaigns that were hammered into us before they really took effect. Such campaigns are proof that similar ones addressing distracted driving will most likely lead to substantial reductions in cell phone use while driving, and reduce the risk of accidents. Federal researchers have found that when enforcement campaign combine awareness with the threat of fees and penalties, they are much more effective in reducing distracted driving. We think the main message of any campaign should be: no text or phone call is worth you risking your life.

If you or a loved one sufferered injuries from an accident involving a distracted driver, please contact our firm for a free consultation. Our personal injury attorney has over 10 years experience representing victims of distracted driving and has the winning expertise to get you the compensation you desrve.