Skip to content

April 26, 2007

For More Information, Contact:
Sarah Mason at (916) 651-4011


SACRAMENTO – State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today that the State Senate passed SB 33, his bill to prohibit drivers under the age of 18 from using a cell phone while driving, on a bipartisan 21-14 vote.  The bill will now be sent to the Assembly for a hearing in June or July.

“I introduced this bill for one simple reason - it will save lives,” said Simitian.  “No one would argue that just because we can’t eliminate all the distractions affecting driver safety, we shouldn’t eliminate the ones we can.  This is especially true when it comes to young drivers.”

SB 33, which would go into effect on July 1, 2008, would prohibit drivers under the age of 18 from using cell phones or any mobile service devices (walkie-talkies, pagers, two-way messaging devices, and PDAs) while driving, even with a hands-free device.  Violators would be assessed a $20 fine for the first offense, and a $50 fine for subsequent offenses, with no violation point on the violator’s driving record.

According to a 2001 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 16 year-old drivers have a crash rate three times higher than that of 17 year-olds, five times greater than 18 year-olds and almost ten times greater than drivers ages 30-59.  Additionally, according to Ford Motor Company research, teen drivers are four times more distracted than adult drivers when using a cell phone while driving.

“We know that driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes, and that cell phone use is the most common distraction,” Simitian noted.  “And most alarmingly, teen-aged drivers are four times more distracted than adult drivers when using a cell phone.”

“Asking young drivers to wait until the age of 18 before they pick up that cell phone is a modest imposition that will save lives.  That’s why the National Transportation Safety Board recently put a cell phone ban for young drivers on their Most Wanted list of Safety Recommendations to States,” he added.

SB 33 is similar to laws already on the books in 13 states and the District of Columbia.  Similar legislation is pending in 16 other states.

Simitian is also the author of last year’s SB 1613, which was signed by the Governor last fall and requires all California drivers using their cell phones to use a hands-free device.  SB 1613 will go into effect on July 1, 2008.

For more information on SB 33, visit .