FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 7, 2011
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SACRAMENTO – Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed Senate Bill 28, which would have strengthened California’s hands-free and no-texting laws for motorists. The measure’s author, State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), called the veto “a lost opportunity to save more lives.” Simitian said he would, “review the Governor’s veto message to see if there is any room for compromise in the coming year.”
Senate Bill 28 proposed increasing fines for motorists who use cell phones without a hands-free device or who text while driving. A subsequent violation of either law would have added a “point” on motorists’ driving records, serving as an added deterrent.
California Highway Patrol (CHP) data from the first year of the hands-free law’s implementation shows a 20 percent reduction in fatalities and collisions in California compared to the annual average over the previous three to five years. That translates into at least 700 fewer fatalities and 75,000 to 100,000 fewer collisions each year.
The CHP data also shows an immediate drop of 40-50 percent in the number of distracted driving accidents attributed to cell phones after the law went into effect. But Simitian said he thought the state could do better.
Research by the AAA Automobile Club of Southern California and the State’s Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) suggests a 60-70 percent compliance rate with California’s hands-free driving law. That, says Simitian, means that a more significant deterrent has the potential to improve compliance and enhance public safety. “Education, enforcement and deterrence are the keys to improved compliance,” said Simitian.
“I’m disappointed,” said Simitian, “but the Governor gets the last word. I understand and accept that. My job now is to figure out where do we go from here.”
Simitian is the author of three previous distracted driving laws:
• Senate Bill 1613 (2006) made it illegal for California drivers to talk on a cell phone without a hands-free device while driving (effective 7/1/08).
• Senate Bill 33 (2007) prohibited drivers under the age of 18 from texting, talking on a cell phone or using any “mobile service” technology while driving, even with a hands-free device (effective 7/1/08).
• Senate Bill 28 (2008) made it illegal for all drivers in California to send, read, or write text messages while driving (effective 1/1/09).
For more information on Simitian’s traffic safety legislation, visit http://www.senatorsimitian.com/legislation. Copies of the CHP data are available upon request.