SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Driving while using a cell phone may now add a point to your driving record.

The California State Senate unanimously passed SB 1030 on Monday. It would make distracted driving a moving violation, not just an infraction. Currently, if you’re caught driving while using a cell phone you’re fined $20, plus penalties, for the 1st offense and $50, plus penalties, for each subsequent offense. The conviction does appear on your driving record, but doesn’t add a point.

If SB 1030 gets signed into law the fines would stay the same but the violator would also get a point on his or her driving record. Points can cause insurance rates to go up.

The bill’s author, Senator Josh Newman (D- Fullerton), said, “Current penalties in California don’t go far enough to deter dangerous distracted driving behavior. Every year thousands of people statewide are seriously injured or killed in collisions caused by distracted driving. These collisions are 100 percent preventable. SB 1030 adds an additional deterrent to this dangerous behavior to prevent more senseless injuries and deaths.”

According to AAA, texting while driving increases the odds of a crash by 2 to 8 times; talking on a phone, even if it’s hands-free, increases the odds of a crash by 4 times. Drivers over 18 can use their phone if it’s hands-free, meaning voice activated and operated.

California’s Wireless Communications Device Law went into effect on January 1, 2009. It bans people from writing, sending or reading text messages while behind the wheel. The handheld wireless telephone law went into effect on July 1, 2008. It prohibits all drivers from using a handheld wireless phone while operating a motor vehicle. In 2017, drivers could no longer hold cell phones for any reason, including to use map apps or music.

SB 1030 now goes to the State Assembly.

  1. Texting is not just a “teen” problem. There are millions of employees in company cars and fleet vehicles who try to “multi-task” behind the wheel.

    While California may seek to lower distracted driving by increasing penalties, fees and regulations, there is another option. There are anti-texting apps, like AT&T DriveMode which is FREE!

    One area that is rarely discussed is that California has thousands of government vehicles that inspectors, regulators and the agricultural department use as fleet vehicles, but they do not have the technology to diminish distracted driving. I would love to see one state lead by example and use a program, like FleetMode, to block texts, redirect incoming phone calls, and impede all other apps in the State vehicles. If we want our state roads to be safer, let’s start by making our state vehicles safer.

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