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May 24, 2001

For More Information, Contact:
Jamille Moens at (916) 651-4011


SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today he has introduced a resolution proclaiming May 21 – 27 California Wireless Safety Week.  National Wireless Safety Week sponsored by the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) was established in 1995 to remind wireless phone customers that safety is their most important call, and to provide information consumers need to use their wireless phones responsibly.

Earlier this year Simitian introduced Assembly Bill 911 to require that drivers using a cell phone use hands-free technology which allows the driver to keep both hands on the wheel.  Simitian says that because that bill is stuck in committee, he brought forth a strictly ceremonial resolution to force discussion of the issue on the Assembly floor.

In the weeks since Simitian’s cell phone safety bill got stuck in committee, the issue has taken on national prominence:

  • Three weeks ago, supermodel Niki Taylor made front page news when she was injured in an automobile accident resulting from a cell phone distracted driver.
  • National newsmagazines have since devoted substantial coverage to the issue of cell phone safety in the car.
  • Republican Governor George Pataki of New York has proposed legislation in his state substantially similar to the hands-free proposal offered by Simitian. 
  • And just this past Monday, US Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) and Senator Jon Corzine (D-NJ) announced the introduction of the first-ever national legislation to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.

“Let’s be clear, cell phone use while driving is a serious public safety problem,” said Simitian.  “The evidence suggests that 12,000 accidents and 1.2 billion dollars in damages—and literally hundreds of deaths per year—are attributable to unsafe driving while using a cell phone.”

Simitian noted that “Wireless Safety Week takes on added significance this year as a result of the mounting evidence of accidents, public outrage at cell phone misuse, anecdotal evidence, personal experience of accident near-misses, and simple common sense. Until we acknowledge the public safety risk improper use of cell phones causes, motorists will continue to use their cell phones in dangerous ways.”

Currently over 22 countries around the world have enacted restrictions on wireless telephone use while driving.  In addition, over 38 states, including California, and over 300 local governments, including San Francisco, Berkeley, and Santa Monica, are considering or have enacted restrictions on cell phone use while driving.

Simitian’s resolution was approved by the Assembly on a voice vote this morning with more than 50 coauthors; the measure will be taken up in the Senate within the next few days.
Below is an excerpt from the 2001 California Department of Motor Vehicles Driver Handbook. 


  1. Get to know your wireless phone and its features, such as speed dial, redial and voicemail.
  2. Use a hands free device.
  3. Position your wireless phone within easy reach.
  4. Let the person you are speaking with know if you are driving: suspend the call in heavy traffic or hazardous conditions.
  5. Do not take notes or look up phone numbers while driving.
  6. Dial sensibly and assess the traffic; place calls when you are not moving or before pulling into traffic.
  7. Do not engage in stressful or emotional conversations that may divert your attention from the road.
  8. Dial 9-1-1 or other local emergency numbers to report serious emergencies – it’s free from your wireless phone.
  9. Use your wireless phone to help others in emergencies.  Be sure to give the exact location and your wireless number.
  10. To get roadside assistance or to report non-emergency situations, use special numbers assigned for those purposes in your area, rather than 9-1-1.