Despite having some of the most strict laws regarding the use of handheld devices by drivers, California legislators are proposing to further increase the penalties for those who disobey the law.

Dubbed ‘the cellphone bill’, California SB 1310, authored state Dem. Sen. Joe Simitian of Palo Alto, would increase the current fine for driving while using a handheld phone or sending a text message from $20 to $30 for first time offenders, and from $50 to $60 for repeat offenders.

There certainly is something to be said for the existing handheld cell devices law. California police have handed out literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of these citations. This has brought it thousands of dollars of revenue for the state and been a severe wake-up call for drivers who either ignored the new law or decided they didn’t need to follow it. It is hoped the new law, which increases the fines 50 percent will be enough of a deterrent.

In the meantime traffic safety analysts still debate the merits of stiffer distracted driving laws with some questioning whether or not distracted driving is worse than driving under the influence of alcohol (as some studies claim.)

For California drivers the facts are not really at issue. The only issue they need to be concerned with is state law, which appears to be ready to make it even worse for drivers who flaunt it.

From the U.S. Department of Transportation:

Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways. In 2010 alone, over 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving crashes.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is leading the effort to stop texting and cell phone use behind the wheel. Since 2009, we have held two national distracted driving summits, banned texting and cell phone use for commercial drivers, encouraged states to adopt tough laws, and launched several campaigns to raise public awareness about the issue.