Skip to content

February 17, 2010

For More Information, Contact:
Melissa Figueroa (916) 651-4011


SACRAMENTO – Recently released collision and fatality data from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) confirms that California’s streets and highways are safer following the implementation of California’s “hands-free” cell phone law.

CHP certified numbers from the first six months of the law’s implementation show a 20 percent reduction in fatalities and collisions in California when compared to the same six month period over the past three to five years. Data from 2009 (not yet certified) confirms the trend. “That translates to at least 700 fewer fatalities and 75,000 to 100,000 fewer collisions each year,” notes the author of the hands-free legislation, State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto).

The reduction in fatalities is consistent with a 2008 analysis from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), which predicted California would save 300 to 900 lives a year, based on the experience of other states that had implemented hands-free laws earlier in the decade. “That’s a lot of folks who are sitting down to dinner with their families every day, who might otherwise not have made it,” said Simitian.

“Equally compelling,” notes Simitian, “is the CHP data that shows an immediate drop of 40-50 percent in the number of distracted driving accidents attributed to cell phones following the July 1, 2008 implementation of the law.”

Since 2001, cell phone subscriptions have increased by 125 percent in California, while the number of drivers on the road increased by eight percent.  The U.S. Department of Transportation calculates that vehicle miles traveled in California remained virtually constant on a per capita basis.

“That makes the data doubly compelling,” said Simitian. “We’ve been able to reduce the number of deaths and crashes even as we’ve seen more drivers and more cell phones out on the highway.”

When he signed the hands-free bill in 2006, Governor Schwarzenegger stated, “The simple fact is it’s dangerous to talk on your cell phone while driving. CHP data shows that cell phones are the number one cause of distracted-driving accidents, so getting people’s hands off their phones and onto their steering wheels is going to make a big difference in road safety.”

For more information on Simitian’s hands-free and texting legislation, visit  The raw data on which this release is based is available upon request.