Sacramento, CA – Assembly Bill 1646 by Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D – Oakley) successfully passed through Assembly Transportation Committee with bipartisan support. This bill will impose firm penalties to offenders who disregard the safety of others by illegally using their cell phone while driving.
“AB 1646 is intended to serve as a deterrent for drivers that blatantly ignore road safety,” said Frazier. “This change in the law will help reduce the number of injuries and fatalities that are caused by distracted drivers and make California’s streets a secure place for all.”
In 2012, crashes involving distracted drivers resulted in 3,328 deaths and nearly half a million injuries. Every month the California Highway Patrol issues around 12,000 tickets for illegal cell phone use while driving and the Office of Traffic Safety reports that cell phone use while driving is now the leading cause of “driver distraction” crashes in California.
“I want to applaud Assemblymember Frazier for his efforts to combat distracted driving,” said Solano County Sheriff Thomas Ferrara. “AB 1646 will provide the necessary education and enforcement tools needed to reduce the number of distracted driving violations and vehicle collisions.”
“As Distracted Driver Awareness Month comes to an end, AB 1646 will create a constant reminder of the dangers and consequences that are a result of distracted driving,” said Frazier.
Here is some additional information on the Bill as stated:
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST
AB 1646, as introduced, Frazier. Vehicles: electronic wireless communication devices: prohibitions.
(1) Existing law requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to examine applicants for specific driver’s licenses and requires that the examination include, among other things, a test of the applicants knowledge and understanding of the provision of the Vehicle Code governing the operation of vehicles upon the highways.
This bill would require the above-described examination to also include a test of the applicant’s understanding of the distractions and dangers of handheld cellular phone use and text messaging while operating a motor vehicle.
(2) Existing law establishes that specified convictions and violations under the Vehicle Code and traffic-related incidents count as points against a driver’s record for purposes of suspension or revocation of the privilege to drive.
Under existing law, it is an infraction for any person to drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone, or an electronic wireless communications device to write send, or read a text-based communication, unless the telephone or electronic wireless communications device is designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation, and is used in that manner while driving, except as otherwise provided. A person under 18 years of age is prohibited from driving a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone or an electronic wireless communications device, even if equipped with a hands-free device.
This bill would assess a violation point for a 2nd or subsequent conviction of a violation of these provisions. This bill would also increase the base fines for a violation of any of the above-described prohibitions involving driving a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone or an electronic wireless communications device from $20 to $50, and the fine for a 2nd or subsequent offense from $50 to $100.
(3) Existing law prohibits a law enforcement officer from stopping a vehicle for the sole purpose of determining whether a driver, who is under 18 years of age, is violating the prohibition of driving a motor vehicle while using a telephone or an electronic wireless communications device.