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A closer look at distracted driving

California has a reputation for being on the cutting-edge when it comes to enacting laws to protect motorists traveling on its roadways. Legislators want to be aggressive when it comes to cracking down on unsafe behaviors to help limit the number of potentially deadly crashes that are happening throughout the state.

Distracted driving is believed to be a major factor in many of these fatal accidents, and the state has several laws in place that punish motorists who are observed using a cellphone while driving. Despite these laws, there are concerns by many that the penalties are not severe enough to deter drivers from using their phones while behind the wheel.

In this post, we discuss the major issues that limit the potential effectiveness of the state’s distracted driving laws, and what might be done to help make roadways safer for all motorists.

Enforcement remains a challenge

The California distracted driving law allows for drivers to be ticketed if they are using their handheld cellphone to call, text, email or browse the internet while they are behind the wheel. But, catching drivers in the act has proven to be very difficult for law enforcement, and the number of citations issued for this offense has dropped over the years, while accidents have continued to increase.

Because of the problems that police face when attempting to enforce this law, resources have been devoted to conduct stings in areas that pose particular dangers to motorists. During these stings, officers are going undercover to watch driver’s behaviors at stop lights to see if they are using their phones while driving. If spotted, the drivers are reported and ticketed by other officers nearby.

Is the fine high enough?

Some feel that another reason motorists continue to engage in distracted driving is that the fines if convicted are relatively small compared to other traffic offenses. A first-offense fine for distracted driving is $20, which goes up to about $200 with court costs included.

Compare this to some other penalties handed down to motorists who engage in other types of traffic infractions. Motorists caught using the carpool lane could be looking at a fine of nearly $500, while littering could bring fines of almost $1,000. Attempts to raise the distracted driving fines have been vetoed by Governor Brown.

As the state continues to see the number of accidents rise, expect to see additional measures in place to help address this problem. Distracted driving remains a serious issue for motorists, and drivers need to be aware of the potential dangers that they may encounter when driving throughout the region.

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