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Tickets for Drivers Using Cell Phones

June 19, 2003

Re "Jurors Zing the Ding-a-Lings," editorial, June 16: The problem with The Times' reasoning is that to get to that multimillion-dollar verdict that will instill fear in the hearts of cell phone-chattering motorists, someone must first be killed or gravely injured. Assemblyman Joe Simitian's (D-Palo Alto) bill, AB 45, would allow police and the highway patrol to take preventive action by ticketing drivers before their inattentiveness leads to another tragic accident.

The editorial also fails to take into account that enactment of AB 45 would result in consequences considerably more serious than "finger-wagging fines" for drivers who refuse to switch to hands-free cell phones -- a ticket for such an infraction would impose not only a small fine but also one point on the recipient's driving record.

As an avid cyclist who rides my bike on the streets of Los Angeles almost daily, and to whom the inattentive motorist is the greatest threat, I applaud Simitian for his efforts. I hope that the California Senate will pass this legislation. It may not be the perfect solution to the problem of drivers who treat their cars as their playpens, dining rooms or roving offices, but it is a giant step in the right direction.

Susan Gans

Co-Chair, L.A. Share The Road


The Times' editorial suggesting that jury awards are better at curtailing dangerous cell phone use while driving defies rational thinking. By extension, the same argument could thus be made about speed limits, drunk driving, unsafe lane changes and following too closely. When my life is on the line, I would prefer that law enforcement be able to ticket stupid drivers.

Robert B. Evans


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