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The CA bill prohibits young people from talking on the phone while driving

In an effort to crack down on distracted driving, a California lawmaker has introduced a bill that would ban young people from talking on the phone while behind the wheel — even if they’re using a hands-free device.

Assembly Bill 276, by Assemblywoman Diane Dixon, R-Newport Beach, would prohibit drivers ages 18 to 20 from using a hands-free device to talk on the phone. Doing so would be a citable offence. California law already prohibits drivers under 18 from doing so.

In an interview with The Bee, Dixon said the law came about because she noticed a lot of people on their mobile devices while driving and did some research.

“And what jumped out at me was the under-21 age group, that’s where the accidents happen,” Dixon said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,142 people were killed in distraction-related vehicle crashes in 2020, including 186 teenagers ages 15 to 19 – 6% of all distraction-related deaths. The same study found that 7% of all motor vehicle fatalities in 2020 involved distracted driving.

“I just want to raise this issue and bring attention to it,” Dixon said.

Asked how police would enforce such a ban, Dixon said it would be a secondary offence; the police first had to stop someone for a primary offense before they could cite them for this prohibition.

Dixon said the amount of the citation has not yet been determined.

The bill was tabled this week, but has yet to be heard in a committee.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for The Sacramento Bee. He has covered crime and politics from interior Alaska to the North Dakota oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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