Assemblymember Frazier Introduces Bill To Increase Traffic Safety and Enhance Driver Awareness

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sacramento, CA – Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D – Oakley) has introduced legislation to help prevent accidents and deaths on California roads as a result of  distracted driving due to illegal cell phone use while driving.  Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on America's roadways.  In 2012 alone 3,328 were killed in distracted driving crashes.

Assembly Bill 1646 will ensure that drivers understand the risk and danger of cell phone use before they receive their license, increase fines for illegal cell phone use to closely align with penalties from across the nation, and assign a point to drivers who continue to violate the law.

“I want to make certain that drivers comply with California law to keep our roads safe,” said Assemblymember Frazier. “The adjusted penalties in AB 1646 are intended to serve as an effective deterrent for drivers who knowingly break the law and put themselves and others at risk.  California currently has a maximum first time fine of only $20 for people who use their cell phones illegally while driving. This is the lowest fine in the nation for first time violators, which tells me that California is behind the curve on deterring unsafe driving.”

The national median penalty is $100 for first time offenses and some states have even greater penalties that aim keep drivers off their phones. In Alaska for instance, drivers can receive a maximum fine of $10,000 and up to one year in jail for a first time texting offense. Other states that have also taken an aggressive stance to deter cell phone use include Oregon, Utah, Indiana, and Maine with fines ranging from $500 to $750.

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, cell phone use while driving is the leading cause of “driver distraction” crashes in California. Even though cell phone use while driving has been outlawed for over five years, the California Highway Patrol reports that they continue to issue around 12,000 tickets a month for cell phone use while driving.

"AB 1646 is a very reasonable approach to discouraging people, especially high-risk teenage drivers, from chatting on hand-held cell phones or texting while driving -- putting themselves and everyone who shares the roads with them in jeopardy,” said President Rosemary Shahan of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety.

To contact Assemblymember Jim Frazier please visit his website at http://www.asmdc.org/members/a11/ or call his District Offices at 707-399-3011 or 925-778-5790.