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Distracted Drivers Face Penalties for Carelessness on the Road

Driving distractions were once largely limited to personal grooming, changing the radio station, and talking with passengers. Nowadays, cell phones, iPods, DVD players, video games, and even fax machi

Distracted Drivers Face Penalties for Carelessness on the Road

(Photo: iStockphoto, Stefan Klein )

Tom Fudge: About one year from now, July 1, 2008, it will be illegal to talk on a hand-held cell phone and drive a car in California. The bill was sponsored by state Senator Joe Simitian of Palo Alto. And it's one of many legal responses to the hazard of distracted drivers on our nation's roads and highways. Studies show that talking on a cell phone, while you drive, is about as dangerous as driving drunk. And traffic safety officials in California say that most accidents result from drivers being distracted. Legislatures have passed laws against use of cell phones while driving. Text messaging while driving has also been the target of state prohibitions.


Senator Simitian's cell phone bill, SB 1613, was signed by the Governor in September and will go into effect on July 1, 2008. The senator's new legislation, SB 33, would forbid anyone under the age of 18 from using a cell phone while driving.


  • Sen. Joe Simitian, democratic state senator representing California's 11 th District who authored two bills to address cell phone use while driving. 
  • Chris Cochran, marketing and public affairs manager for the California Office of Traffic Safety