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    Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Bill Requiring Drivers To Use Hands-Free Cell Phone Devices Effective July 2008

    (Sept. 15, 2006) -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed SB 1613 by Sen. Joseph Simitian (D-Palo Alto) that would prohibit using a cell phone in a moving vehicle unless the driver is using a hands free device, effective July 1, 2008.

    In a written release, Gov. Schwarzenegger said, ""The simple fact is it's dangerous to talk on your cell phone while driving. CHP data show that cell phones are the number one cause of distracted-driving accidents. So getting people's hands off their phones and onto their steering wheels is going to make a big difference in road safety. The 'Hands-Free' cell phone bill will save lives by making our roads safer. I want to thank Senator Simitian for authoring this bill and for his commitment to the safety of his fellow Californians."

    The bill, which was supported by LB area lawmakers Senator Alan Lowenthal and Assemblymembers Jenny Oropeza and Betty Karnette, creates an infraction for driving a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone, unless it is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free operation and is used in that manner. It imposes a base fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses.

    The bill prohibits a "point" from being assessed n a person's driving record for violating the law. It takes efect July 1, 2008.

    According to a state Senate legislative analysis, the CHP reported that "of 441,334 total collisions in 2004, the investigating officer cited the driver's cellular phone as a factor contributing to the collision in 931 of the collisions."

    Opponents argued that the bill singled out one type of behavior -- holding a phone -- that could lead to inattentive driving. They also cited a study by the AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of North Carolina found that cell phones were only the eighth most common distraction. (Reaching and leaning was the most prevalent distracted activity.)

    The Assembly vote on final passage was:

    MEASURE:	SB 1613
    AUTHOR:	Simitian
    TOPIC:	Vehicles: wireless telephones.
    DATE:	08/31/2006
    MOTION:	Unfinished Business SB1613 Simitian
    	(AYES  21. NOES  16.)  (PASS)
    Aanestad	Alquist	Bowen	Cedillo
    Chesbro	Dunn	Escutia	Figueroa
    Florez	Kehoe	Lowenthal	Migden
    Ortiz	Perata	Romero	Scott
    Simitian	Soto	Speier	Torlakson
    Ackerman	Alarcon	Ashburn	Battin
    Cox	Ducheny	Dutton	Hollingsworth
    Kuehl	Machado	Maldonado	McClintock
    Morrow	Murray	Poochigian	Runner
    Denham	Harman	Margett
    DATE:	08/29/2006
    MOTION:	SB 1613 Simitian  Senate Third Reading  By Frommer
    	(AYES  50. NOES  28.)  (PASS)
    Baca	Bass	Berg	Bermudez
    Calderon	Canciamilla	Chan	Chu
    Cohn	Coto	Daucher	De La Torre
    Dymally	Emmerson	Evans	Frommer
    Garcia	Goldberg	Hancock	Jerome Horton
    Shirley Horton	Jones	Karnette	Klehs
    Laird	Leno	Levine	Lieber
    Lieu	Liu	Matthews	Montanez
    Mullin	Nation	Nava	Negrete McLeod
    Oropeza	Parra	Pavley	Richman
    Ridley-Thomas	Ruskin	Saldana	Salinas
    Torrico	Umberg	Vargas	Wolk
    Yee	Nunez
    Aghazarian	Arambula	Benoit	Blakeslee
    Bogh	Chavez	Cogdill	DeVore
    Haynes	Houston	Huff	Keene
    La Malfa	La Suer	Leslie	Maze
    McCarthy	Mountjoy	Nakanishi	Niello
    Plescia	Sharon Runner	Spitzer	Strickland
    Tran	Villines	Walters	Wyland
    Koretz	Vacancy

    The State of New York was the first to ban the use of had-held cell phones while driving with similar legislation in June 2001. Drivers there face fines of $100 for the first violation, $200 for the second and $500 thereafter. New Jersey and Washington, D.C. adopted similar laws that took effect on July 1, 2004. A 2005 Maryland law prohibits drivers ages 16-18 from using any cell phone while driving.

    The CA law still allows drivers to make emergency calls without a hands-free device; drivers of emergency response vehicles are exempt; and commercial drivers can use push to talk phones until July 1, 2011.

    Hands-free devices are relatively inexpensive and most new phones come with an earpiece.

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