Garcia drives legislation forward to stop unsafe driving habits

Sacramento, CA—Assemblywoman Garcia (R-Cathedral City) today scored a victory before the Assembly Transportation Committee when her bill, AB 963, which prohibits teens from chatting on cell phones while driving, received bi-partisan support.

California law allows teenagers between ages 16 and 18 to receive provisional licenses which restrict hours of operation and the transportation of passengers. AB 963 would add an additional requirement by also prohibiting their use of cell phones or other communications device while operating a moving vehicle.

Studies clearly show these inexperienced drivers can be easily distracted and have a higher incidence of fatal accidents.

In 2003, the National Traffic Safety Board recommended that all states enact laws prohibiting holders of learner’s permits and intermediate licenses from using interactive wireless communication devices while driving. The States of New York, New Jersey and Maine have already adopted similar legislation, with many others considering bills this year.

A recent report released by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) states that out of over 1,000,000 accidents in 2003, 1,333 were attributed to wireless telephone related collisions. These statistics also suggest that provisional drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision than drivers over the age of 18.

Assemblywoman Garcia stated, “As a mother of two teenagers, I know first-hand about how technology has given kids more ways to stay connected to their friends. Over 6 million kids have cell phones capable of receiving calls, text messages, taking pictures or surfing the web. There is a time and a place for using these devices and it is not behind the wheel of a car. We have sent a strong message that drinking and driving do not mix and now we have to send the message to our teenagers that yakking on a cell phone while driving doesn’t mix either.”

AB 963 easily passed out of the Assembly Transportation Committee on a 13-0 vote and now moves to the Appropriations Committee for a vote.