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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

Lawmakers introduce stricter texting and driving fines

California drivers who talk or text on the road will face stiffer regulations

State Senator Joe Simitian wrote the new bill to help protect California roads (AP).
State Senator Joe Simitian wrote the new bill to help protect California roads (AP).
Drivers who text or talk on hand-held phones will now face steep fines under a new Senate measure.

Lawmakers voted to raise the fine from $20 to $50 for a first offense and from $50 to $100 for subsequent violations.

The bill will also extend the ban to bicyclists.

California’s hand-held phone restrictions from three years ago have helped lower the number of accidents and fatalities, according to Senator Joe Simitian, the author of the bill.

A survey conducted by the Automobile Club of Southern California last year reported that about 3.6% of drivers use hand-held cellphones.  This is about 60% fewer than before the law went into effect in 2008. According to Simitian, that means thousands of drivers are using their cellphones on the road.

But reports from the California Highway Patrol indicate a five percent drop in the number of cell phone related distracted-driving accidents in the six months after the law took effect.

“The key to making this law work and saving even more lives is to make sure we have education, enforcement and deterrence,” Simitian said.

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