Ticket Cost for Cell Phone Use May Triple

California News

Surprisingly, a new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute shows bans prohibiting handheld cell phone use while driving don't reduce the number of crashes. Collision claims in California were no different than in surrounding states that don't have the hands-free mandate.

"We don't have any evidence that cell phone laws are going to have much effect on highway safety," said Russ Radar, Highway Loss Data Institute.

The study may gain attention because the researchers are affiliated with the insurance institute for highway safety, a respected organization.

Since the hands-free law went into effect 18 months ago, the California Highway Patrol has issued more than 231,000 tickets.

They dispute the study, saying crashes and traffic fatalities have gone down in the first six months alone.

"When folks are distracted and they're not paying attention to their driving, they're putting themselves at risk and other motorists in the state of California," said Adrian Quintero, CHP Officer.

Keith James has a Bluetooth and knows personally how a handheld behind the wheel can be dangerous.

"I had a niece involved in an accident with someone using their handset to their ear. So I definitely thinking using the Bluetooth is beneficial," Keith James said.

Despite the new findings, the author of California's hands-free driving law is considering getting even tougher.

Senator Joe Simitian is looking at tripling the fine or making it a moving violation that adds a point to your driving record. He's even thinking of extending to people riding bicycles.

Allen Gong who has gotten a ticket for a cell phone violation thinks that's the wrong way to go.

"I feel like it's an infringement on my rights. If they make it a moving violation, if it affects my insurance, they're going too far with that," Gong said. "You can say the radio is too loud and what? We're going to get a ticket for that too now?"

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