One year after passage of California’s “hands-free” cell phone law, State Senator Joe Simitian is taking credit for reduction in highway fatalities:
Recently released collision and fatality data from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) confirms that California’s streets and highways are safer following the implementation of California’s “hands-free” cell phone law.
CHP certified numbers from the first six months of the law’s implementation show a 20 percent reduction in fatalities and collisions in California when compared to the same six month period over the past three to five years.
Sounds pretty good, right? Not so fast…
At the same time the hands-free law went into effect, CHP was greatly increasing its staffing and enforcement levels:
In 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed to increase CHP patrol positions by 1,000 officers. The Governor’s promise marked the first time in 40 years that the CHP had been provided an increase in officer positions intended strictly for patrol responsibilities. To date, 540 new officers have been hired and are actively patrolling in commands throughout the state.
While preliminary numbers show fatal collisions are down approximately 29 percent, enforcement and services to the public have increased, meaning a quicker response to collisions and roadway hazards and a higher level of assistance to motorists who call for help from the CHP. While statewide, officers issued 8 percent more citations, they also gave 74 percent more verbal warnings to motorists. Motorist services increased 13 percent, according to CHP statistics.