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States Looking To Beef Up Penalties for Distracted Driving Laws

December 31, 1969

Various states are taking another look at their distracted driving laws and considering upping the fines and the penalties, according to USA TODAY.

A recent study from the Highway Loss Data Institute shows that the current cell phone and texting bans aren't doing another to help to reduce these kinds of accidents.
In the state of California, all drivers are prohibited from talking on a hand-held cell phone and from texting while driving. The test messaging law is primary enforcement for everyone, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Our Los Angeles car accident attorneys understand that these laws may not be working as well as some would hope. Officials are looking to beef up these laws and to make the penalties stiffer to help to make them work a little better. Drivers are asked to avoid using electronic devices at the wheel not only because it's state law, but because it's dangerous as well. Distractions greatly increase your risks of serious injury and even death when driving. Not only are you endangering yourself, but you're endangering the lives of innocent motorists as well.

According to the director of state relations for AAA, Justin McNaull, studies into seat belt laws and enforcement efforts show that states that have higher fines have fewer drivers disobeying.

Others, like Gary Biller with the National Motorists Association, say that higher fines aren't going to work. He says that it's more about educating drivers about the dangers that accompany these bad habits rather than slapping on a steeper fine.

New Jersey is getting a head start on upping the fines. Lawmakers recent approved a measure to put the texting fine from $100 to $200. Those who are busted enough times can also face a driver's license suspension. The bill is going to be heard by the Senate Budget Committee next.

"Our goal is to have people stop injuring each other," says New Jersey state Sen. Dick Codey. "Before, it was a slap on the wrist. What people need is a slap on the face."

Distracted driving is a bigger problem than you might think. According to the most recent statistics from, these accidents took the lives of nearly 3,100 people and injured another 420,000 in 2010. Unfortunately, these actual stats are expected to be much higher as distraction can't always be properly accredited to accidents. These factors are noted to account for about one out of every five accidents. Cell phone-using drivers about 4 times more likely to get into an injury accident while text messaging drivers are nearly 25 times more likely to get into one of these accidents.

Be safe out there and put down the phone! Keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel is one of the most effective ways to help to reduce your risks of a potentially fatal accident.

If you or a loved one has been injured, contact Huntington Beach personal injury attorney Vincent Howard to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case. Call (800) 872-5925.

Additional Resources:

States consider raising fines for distracted driving, by Shawn Ghuman, USA TODAY

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