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New bill could increase penalties for texting and driving

The American Automobile Association reports that driving while texting can make a crash two to eight times more likely. A new bill in California could make roads safer by increasing texting and driving penalties.

Lawmakers in California are looking to reduce texting and driving. The current bill in legislation would add a point for second-time offenders of texting or holding a phone while driving. If the bill passes, drivers receiving two or more violations within 36 months would get a point on their record for each violation after the first one. Currently, texting and driving is exempt from the California DMV point system.

The point system

In California, drivers receive points on their record for different driving violations. Enough points can label the driver as a “negligent drivers.” At that point, insurance can go up. Negligent drivers also may find it difficult to renew their licenses. Four or more points in 12 months, six or more in 24 months or eight or more in 36 months label a driver as negligent.

The effect of distracted driving

Distracted driving causes a major problem on California roads. In a 2016 survey by the California Office of Traffic Safety, 56% said they either had an accident or nearly had an accident because another driver was using a cell phone. In the same survey, 40% of those polled said they had made a mistake while driving and talking on a cellphone.

Lawmakers cited this study when writing the new bill. They look to decrease these numbers with stronger penalties for texting and driving.

Not the first attempt

While the proposed bill has made it through the Assembly and Senate Transportation Committee with unanimous support, the full Senate still needs to pass it and have the governor sign it into law. A similar bill was vetoed in 2014 with the governor saying more research and analysis of distracted driving was needed.

If the bill passes into law, lawmakers hope it could encourage less distracted driving, making California roads a little safer.

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