How did we get here?
Before the traffic-enforcement system was implemented, motorists were fined for traffic violations ranging from failing to wear seat belts, failing to signal at red lights, driving with the right of way, and failing to yield at a red light.
But a 2005 study found that the fines paid out by motorists to police were much less than what they were required to pay to local courts.
In one study, for example, the average payment per ticket paid out in California to local jurisdictions was $9,921.
In a follow-up study, the state estimated that it paid $2,527 per ticket to local prosecutors for each ticket that was processed.
After the system was installed in 2015, the California Highway Patrol increased fines to $50 for the first offense, and $100 for subsequent offenses.
But the state also instituted a $2 million cap on the amount of tickets that could be issued per year, so the system’s effectiveness in reducing traffic fatalities remained limited.
Today, the cap on ticket revenue is $50,000 per year.
California Highway Troopers say that in 2018, about 85 percent of traffic fatalities in California were the result of distracted driving, with distracted drivers responsible for nearly 60 percent of the fatalities.
The state has not seen a significant decline in distracted driving deaths since it implemented the traffic fines, though the number of drivers distracted while driving has increased, with the increase in drivers under the influence of alcohol and other drugs.
In 2018, California had about 1,200 traffic fatalities, compared with about 3,200 in 2005, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
But in 2019, there were about 740 traffic fatalities due to distracted driving and other traffic causes, according the state.
In a 2016 study, researchers from the University of California-Berkeley and the University