The California State Senate approved a measure which would ultimately raise the fine for anyone caught using their cell phone while behind the wheel.
Senate Bill 1310 increases the fines for breaking the hands-free and no texting laws from $20 to $30 for a first-time offense, and from $50 to $60 for subsequent offenses.
The total cost of a first offense, including penalties, would rise to roughly $199, depending on the county. Second offenses would cost about $371
According to a press release, the extra money from the tougher law would be used to fund a distracted driving education program in the California Office of Traffic Safety.
California Highway Patrol has repeatedly conducted distracted driving campaigns focused on finding and ticketing drivers who refuse to put down their cell phones or other handheld devices while trying to navigate California highways. Despite these increased patrols, hundreds of drivers have been caught and hundreds more are still doing it–hence the increased fines.
And the effort to curb distracted behavior on the roadways doesn’t stop with cars. If passed SB1310 would also levy fines on bicyclists who ride distracted. They would pay just $20 for first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense, and with no fees and would not get a point on their record for second offenses, but the bill is being supported by the California Bicycle Coalition which means it has bilateral support.
Repeated studies have shown that distracted driving behaviors, whether it is talking on a cell phone, sending and receiving text messages; updating social media or even sending and receiving emails, all leads to an increased risk of having a vehicle collision. Every vehicle collision adds to the costs everyone pays for insurance; increases the risk of serious of injury or death and generally causes a lot of problems for everyone who rides or drives on the roads.