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CHP issues 20,000-plus 'cell-phone citations'

About 3,500 issued in Bay Area since new law by Sen. Joe Simitian went into effect

Since a new law prohibiting use of hand-held cell phones while driving went into effect on July 1, the California Highway Patrol has cited more than 20,000 drivers statewide for talking on the phone.

About 3,500 of those citations were handed out in the Bay Area, CHP spokesperson Fran Clader said today.

The law, authored by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, came about in response to the number of accidents blamed on drivers being distracted while using cell phones. It requires those who use cell phones while driving to have and earpiece so they have both hands free.

From 2005 to 2007, "Hand-held cell phones were the No. 1 identifiable cause of inattention that led to crashes," Clader said.

Numbers on the law's potential success in reducing crashes will not be calculated until at least next July, Clader said.

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Statistics on the law's success in changing people's habits are difficult to produce, she said.

"Anecdotally, from my perspective, I don't see people using hand-helds very often," Clader said. "In other areas, people still say they see it happening a lot."

"We continue to let people know this is the law," she said.

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CHP issues 20,000-plus 'cell-phone citations'

About 3,500 issued in Bay Area since new law by Sen. Joe Simitian went into effect

Uploaded: Wed, Oct 8, 2008, 12:34 am

Since a new law prohibiting use of hand-held cell phones while driving went into effect on July 1, the California Highway Patrol has cited more than 20,000 drivers statewide for talking on the phone.

About 3,500 of those citations were handed out in the Bay Area, CHP spokesperson Fran Clader said today.

The law, authored by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, came about in response to the number of accidents blamed on drivers being distracted while using cell phones. It requires those who use cell phones while driving to have and earpiece so they have both hands free.

From 2005 to 2007, "Hand-held cell phones were the No. 1 identifiable cause of inattention that led to crashes," Clader said.

Numbers on the law's potential success in reducing crashes will not be calculated until at least next July, Clader said.

Statistics on the law's success in changing people's habits are difficult to produce, she said.

"Anecdotally, from my perspective, I don't see people using hand-helds very often," Clader said. "In other areas, people still say they see it happening a lot."

"We continue to let people know this is the law," she said.

Comments

Commuter
Midtown
on Oct 8, 2008 at 3:10 pm
Commuter, Midtown
on Oct 8, 2008 at 3:10 pm

I commute from Palo Alto to San Jose and sometimes out to Santa Cruz four days a week. I rarely see a CHP unit unless there is an accident on the freeway. On the other hand, everywhere I turn I still see people yapping on their cell phones and driving like idiots because they are not paying attention to what they are doing. I don't think people care about this law if the fine is only $20. If the fine were $200 maybe people would think twice about blabbing while driving. This law makes sense, but the fine does not.


throw the bums out!
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 8, 2008 at 4:14 pm
throw the bums out!, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 8, 2008 at 4:14 pm

it's a token, feel-good law. Simitian never rocks the boat. Why not a $200 fine? Because commuters would get mad and vote against Simitian. Play is safe, Joe. That's the Sacramento Way.


resident
Barron Park
on Oct 8, 2008 at 11:58 pm
resident, Barron Park
on Oct 8, 2008 at 11:58 pm

I think the $20 fine is fair..isn't this just the fine for the first offense? I'm sure it increases after that. But, for many years people were allowed to talk on their phones while driving. I think that this is a good transition stage, so that if some people are completely out of the loop and don't know that all of a sudden there is a change in the law, they are not slapped with a large fine.

I wish they would fine people for eating and doing other things in the car too, including texting.


Suzie
another community
on Oct 9, 2008 at 12:55 pm
Suzie, another community
on Oct 9, 2008 at 12:55 pm

I see people talking on their hand held cell phones every single day! I drive on El Camino from Palo Alto to Mountain View and sometimes Sunnyvale, twice a day....people are still talking on hand-held cell phones as if there had never been a law enacted.


Greg K
Midtown
on Oct 9, 2008 at 2:34 pm
Greg K, Midtown
on Oct 9, 2008 at 2:34 pm

$20 for the first offense. $50 for the second. With all the add-on fees, the second offense is really close to $200.


gina
Mountain View
on Dec 20, 2009 at 9:38 am
gina, Mountain View
on Dec 20, 2009 at 9:38 am

i got caught by a cop using my cell while driving, and said first offense is only $25.00 but warning to all, it is not $25.00, i received a letter from palo alto court that i have to pay $142.00 and $25.00 is just the base.


Greg K
Midtown
on Dec 20, 2009 at 9:41 am
Greg K, Midtown
on Dec 20, 2009 at 9:41 am

Driving while talking on your cell phone is just as dangerous as driving drunk.


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