A new bill is targeting distracted drivers who like to use their cell phone while behind the wheel. SB 1030 would add a point to a driver's record if cops catch you behind the wheel while handling your mobile device.
The legislation, written by State Senator Josh Newman, would make the offense a moving violation, but the fines associated with distracted driving wouldn't change.
"And that will prospectively influence your insurance, but also, if you have enough points, jeopardize your privilege to drive." Newman said. "So we hope the assumption is that that will increase deterrents. Make people think seriously about it."
Fines range from $20 for the first offense to $50 for each subsequent offense.
A recent study from AAA showed that using a cell phone while driving led to significant impairment while behind the wheel, and texting especially, was associated with an increased crash risk. But, as Senator Newman points out, your phone can do a lot more than just make phone calls or text a friend.
"The original legislation took into account that mostly differences in attention span and also visibility - the presumption is that people will be holding their phones to their ear, or in some cases, texting." Sen Newman said. "And now there's just an infinite number of things you can do with your phones and an infinite number of temptations.
"The study showed that because of the immersive experience of using a mobile phone, it's very dangerous. But you know, anything you're really doing behind the wheel other than operating a motor vehicle is potentially at the expense of fellow driver or yourself," said Newman.
With so much on the line, Sen Newman says the danger is real when using a phone while driving.
"There are five thousand deaths nationwide, per year, of which, virtually 100 percent are preventable. I mean there is no pressing reason why you should take your eyes off the road while operating a motor vehicle to look at your phone.
The bill passed the full Senate Monday and it now goes to the Assembly for their consideration.
Photo: Getty Images