It seems that California drivers do not take cell phone laws very seriously. In a recent poll conducted by The San Diego Union-Tribune, 54 percent of those who responded admitted to “cheating just a little” or “mostly ignoring [the] law” when using cell phones in their car. Unfortunately, distracted driving caused more than 1,200 car accidents statewide in 2009.
While this survey is an unofficial poll, it serves as a useful indicator of how Californians feel about the recently enacted cell phone law which prohibits cell phone use in a vehicle without a hands-free device. The results aren’t stellar—who’s to blame for California’s lack of urgency?
Cell phone laws hitting hard in San Diego County
When injuries occur as a result of distracted driving, individuals will turn to the help of competent attorneys. Personal injury and wrongful death are often cases that require legal assistance, and while seeking an accident attorney is often essential for cases such as these, the best preventative measure is staying on the right side of the law.
However, more than 500 San Diego motorists were cited for cell phone-related use while driving last week. The California Highway Patrol cited more than a dozen drivers for texting while driving, a new law enforced in California since 2009.
A Border Division Chief said agencies such as CHP, police, and sheriff will crack down on cell phone use. “Distracted drivers will not be tolerated,” he said.
In addition to reducing distracted driving, the California Department of Transportation is promoting safer driving habits to include cell phone law reminders broadcasted on electronic highway marquee boards.
“Driving is a complex task requiring motorists’ full attention,” hle said. “Anything that diverts a driver’s eyes…from the roadway even for one or two seconds can result in tragedy.” Distracted driving can result in a fatal car crashes, wrongful death, or personal injury, so staying focused on the road during the busy holiday season has never been more important for the sake of safety.
Caltrans supports CHP efforts to reduce distracted driving
Caltrans “Let your phone calls go to voice mail and return the call when you reach your destination,” Caltrans district director said.
Most people are aware the law requires hands-free calling while behind the wheel. A CHP officer says motorists are angry, surprised, or sheepish when pulled over. “Occasionally you’ll have people that admit wrongdoing. [They say] ‘OK, you caught me, I know it’s unsafe and I’m glad that I got caught,” Garcia said.
Cell phone stats for the Golden State
Californians haven’t been diligent in obeying the law, according to the Auto Club of Southern California, who performed spot-checks along popular freeway entrances and exits. In their findings, they found that as many as 27 out of 1,000 drivers were caught texting while driving. And, about 37 individuals were seen holding a cell phone to their ear.
Mild consequences for cell phone offenders may be to blame for California’s lack of urgency. The modest fines leave caught offenders relatively unscathed. For a first time offender, a ticket will cost $20, and no points are recorded on the driving record. Unless a car accident has occurred as a result, an accident lawyer is generally never used to dispute these kinds of tickets. And, while lawmakers have discussed increasing the fines, no changes have yet been implemented.