Assembly: Hike Calif. cell phone fine

The California Assembly wants to present Gov. Jerry Brown with a new plan to more than double fines for electronic distracted driving. The Assembly approved a bill from Assemblyman Jim Frazier (pictured) that seeks to hike the current fine for handheld cell phone use or texting from $20 to $50. Subsequent fines would be $100 with a point vs. the driver's license. Brown vetoed almost identical legislation in 2011. The sponsor, state Sen. Joe Simitian, tried again in 2012 -- with lesser fines -- but that measure too was axed by Brown. Brown wrote in his 2011 veto message: “For people of … [Read more...]

New Hampshire OKs cell ban

New Hampshire drivers won't be allowed to use handheld cell phones, but they have a while to get used to the idea. Under an act approved by the legislature May 7, the ban goes into effect July 1, 2015. In addition to barring adult drivers from holding their cell phones and talking, drivers under the age of 18 will be barred from all mobile phone use. (That provision takes effect upon enactment of the law.) Fines begin at $100, increase to $250 for second offenses, and then top out at $500. Update: Gov. Maggie Hassan approved the distracted driving measure July 25, saying the new … [Read more...]

In Maryland, Jake’s Law approved

Deadly distractions won't be tolerated in Maryland. The state's governor signed "Jake's Law" on April 14, bringing closure of a kind to the family of a 5-year-old who died in a 2011 distracted driving crash. The law, which takes effect Oct. 1, means distracted drivers who kill or seriously injure others through their negligence are faced with a year's incarceration and a $5,000 fine. In addition, 12 points will be assessed vs. the driver's license. The driver who slammed into the family car and killed Jake Owen was fined $1,000, convicted of a pair of traffic offenses. He was using … [Read more...]

Calif. court: OK to hold phone for map

California's hand-held cell phone law applies only to drivers who are engaged in a call, an appeals court has ruled. The ruling favored a driver, Steven Spriggs, who was ticketed for checking a map application while stopped in heavy traffic. "Spriggs contends he did not violate the statute because he was not talking on the telephone," the Fifth District Court of Appeal said in a ruling published Feb. 27. "We agree. "Based on the statute's language, its legislative history, and subsequent legislative enactments, we conclude that the statute means what it says -- it prohibits a … [Read more...]

11 states flash red for safety laws

Eleven states are "dangerously behind" in adopting highway safety laws, according to an advocacy group's annual report. The states include Florida, Arizona, Nebraska and Alabama. Also making the group's dumb-and-dumber list are South Dakota, Mississippi, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Wyoming. South Dakota ranked as the worst in the nation in terms of "optimal" laws. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety graded all 50 states and the District of Columbia on 15 basic traffic safety laws. It assigns a rating of green, yellow or red to each state. The 2014 "Roadmap … [Read more...]