20,000 Nabbed For Using Cell Phones While Driving

New Calif. Driving Law Causes Thousands of Tickets

Since a new law prohibiting use of hand-held cell phones while driving went into effect on July 1, the California Highway Patrol has cited more than 20,000 drivers statewide for talking on the phone.

About 3,500 of those citations were handed out in the Bay Area, CHP spokesperson Fran Clader said today.

The law, authored by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, came about in response to the number of accidents blamed on drivers being distracted while using cell phones.

From 2005 to 2007, "Hand-held cell phones were the No. 1 identifiable cause of inattention that led to crashes," Clader said.

Numbers on the law's potential success in reducing crashes will not be calculated until at least next July, Clader said.

Statistics on the law's success in changing people's habits are difficult to produce, she said.

"Anecdotally, from my perspective, I don't see people using hand-helds very often," Clader said. "In other areas, people still say they see it happening a lot."

"We continue to let people know this is the law," she said.

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