to $50 for the infraction. The law would take effect in January 2005.
The Assembly Transportation Committee passed the bill -- authored
by Frommer and Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) this week with a 14-5 vote.
Its next stop is the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
"I think there is a proliferation of new devices that people are
using in their cars which distract them," Frommer said. "Based on
reports, there is a risk associated with using a cell phone while
driving, specifically in holding the cell phone."
Frommer pointed to studies such as a California Highway Patrol
report that found that 11% of crashes involving distracted drivers
were linked to cell phone use, he said. Between Jan. 1 and June 30 of last year, six deaths and 264 injuries were connected to driving
while using a cell phone, Frommer said of the study's findings.
"I've received a lot of letters and calls from constituents on
this issue," Frommer said. "They see people driving erratically
because of this. There is a public concern about this."
In the last two years, the same legislation was killed in the
Assembly, Frommer said, adding that the cell phone industry lobbied
A Nokia spokeswoman declined to discuss the company's stance on
similar legislation. But she said safety is a part of its user
guidelines, published with each new phone.
"We recommend that users do not use a hand-held phone while
driving -- rather that they park the vehicle first," Nokia
spokeswoman Laurie Armstrong said.
Police have become more vigilant about cell phone use while
"It's the inattention that would be part of what an officer would
find wrong with the driving," CHP Officer Vince Bell said. "While
[the inattention] might not be against the law, it will cause drivers
to break the law."
Cell phone distractions are associated with swerving, running red
lights , speeding and even driving too slow, all of which can be
cited, Glendale Police Lt. Don Meredith said.
"They can't signal," Burbank Police Sgt. Bruce Speirs said,
referring to a typical driver scenario of one hand on the phone and
one on the wheel.
Meredith and Speirs said police now can ask drivers involved in
accidents if they were using a cell phone when the accident occurred.
In 2001, New York became the first state to ban the use of
hand-held cell phones while driving.