SACRAMENTO, Calif — Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Solana County) and other California lawmakers are trying to crack down on the increase of distracted driving.
Frazier, who is the chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee, is taking a tougher stance on the dangerous practice by introducing Assembly Bill 47, which aims to increase the penalty for using a cell phone behind the wheel.
Distracted driving crashes happen more than 400,000 times a year in the United States and is the leading cause of deaths among teens, according to Frazier.
Under the new legislation, using a cell phone while driving would count as one violation point on your record, Frazier said. The penalty would ultimately result in increased insurance rates.
“We are hoping that drivers recognize this a an additional cost and make sure that it creates a larger deterrent and makes them think twice before they do it again,” Frazier added.
Currently, speeding or running a red light gets drivers one point their record, and driving under the influence gets them two points. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, most points (illegal turn, not making a complete stop, driving over the speed limit, etc.) and accidents will stay on your DMV driver record for three years.
According to local insurance officials, one point will not significantly affect a driver’s record. However, drivers who already have a point, may end up losing their good driver discount.
At some insurance companies, the good driver discount gets drivers 10 percent off of their premium, and at others it gets them up to 30 percent. In some cases, without the good driver discount, an insurance premium could go up by 20 percent.
“It’s just a step in the right in the direction to really try and help people understand about the harm that can be done in an instant,” Frazier said.
If the bill passes, it would take effect in 2021.
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