Drivers who are caught using a cell phone by police while operating a motor vehicle are facing stiffer fines than before after a new bill was approved by the California Senate in the United States. The bill, which will now head to the Assembly, will see fines be raised from 208 to 328 dollars for a first offence, to 528 for a repeat offender.
“The goal here is simply to save more lives,” insists Senator Joe Simitian D-Palo Alto, who claims the original bill to ban using a cell phone while driving worked on between 60 to 70 per cent of motorists, but adds that both more education and more deterrents are needed to make compliance rise further. While Simitian points to statistics that show crashes have decreased since the first bill was introduced as proof of its effectiveness, many remain unconvinced, including fellow Senators.
Senator Doug LaMalfa R-Willows believes that the bill is just another example of the “nanny government” that the US is turning into in his opinion. “People out there, they hate this bill,” LaMalfa argues. “It makes them angry that you can’t just casually use a cell phone in appropriate situations in an automobile,” he notes, adding that it should be up to the discretion of police officers to stop drivers who are driving erratically for any reason. Simitian, however, claims that the bill is popular and just common sense.