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Drivers still violate cell phone law, CHP says

More than 244,000 citations issued since the law was passed 2 years ago

Posted: June 30, 2010 3:37 p.m.
Updated: July 1, 2010 5:34 p.m.
 

Sacramento, Calif. - Although California's hands-free law went into effect two years ago, statistics indicate that many motorists still fail to adhere to the law, the California Highway Patrol said today.

Since the law's inception in July 2008, CHP officers have issued more than 244,000 citations statewide to motorists who were in violation of the hands-free law, according to data from the CHP's Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS).

"Many people were accustomed to using cell phones while driving before the law took effect, and it may be difficult for some people to change this practice," said Commissioner Joe Farrow. "However, we all need to try hard to obey this law since driving is a complex task, requiring a motorist's full attention. Even a moment of inattention can have disastrous consequences for a driver and those around them."

The law, which went into effect July 1, 2008, prohibits the use of handheld cell phones by all motorists and prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from using any type of cell phone-- handheld or hands free--while driving.

Six months later, a ban on text messaging by drivers was put into effect.

Cell phone violations carry a minimum base fine of $20 for the first offense and $50 for the second. When court costs and other fees are added to the fines, the total cost of the violation quickly exceeds $100 for the first offense, the CHP said.

Cell phones are the leading identifiable, contributing factor to inattentive driver crashes in California, the CHP said. Since the law's passage, SWITRS data has domonstrated that there have been more than 1,200 collisions statewide, caused by a distracted driver using a cell phone .

Those same collisions resulted in 16 fatalities and more than 850 victims injured.

"Too many motorists have been injured or died because of inattention while driving," Commissioner Farrow said. "Drivers need to put down the phone and focus on driving; otherwise it may cost you your life, or the life of your loved ones."

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