BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






           SENATE TRANSPORTATION & HOUSING COMMITTEE       BILL NO: ab 2233
          SENATOR ALAN LOWENTHAL, CHAIRMAN               AUTHOR:  Maze
                                                         VERSION: 2/20/08
          Analysis by:  Jennifer Gress                   FISCAL:  yes
          Hearing date:  June 17, 2008








          SUBJECT:

          Driving with animals

          DESCRIPTION:

          This bill makes it unlawful for a person to drive a motor  
          vehicle while holding a live animal in his or her arm or arms or  
          lap.

          ANALYSIS:

          Existing law includes a number of provisions regarding  
          obstructed view, distracted driving, and properly restraining  
          children and animals to ensure their safety. 

           Existing law prohibits a person from driving a vehicle when it  
            is loaded in a manner that obstructs the view of the driver to  
            the front or sides of the vehicle or that interferes with the  
            driver's control over the vehicle.  

           Drivers age 18 years and older will be prohibited, beginning  
            July 1, 2008, from operating a motor vehicle while using a  
            wireless telephone unless that telephone is used in a  
            hands-free manner, and drivers under the age of 18 will be  
            prohibited from using any mobile service device while  
            operating a vehicle.  

           To provide additional protection to small children, drivers  
            may not transport a child who is under six years of age or who  
            weighs less than 60 pounds in a motor vehicle without properly  
            securing the child in a rear seat in a child passenger  
            restraint system meeting applicable federal standards.




          AB 2233 (MAZE)                                           Page 2

                                                                       



           To prevent animals that are being transported in the back of a  
            truck from being thrown, falling, or jumping from the vehicle,  
            existing law prohibits a person from transporting any animal  
            in the back of the vehicle in a space intended for any load  
            unless the space is enclosed, has side and tail racks at least  
            46 inches high, the animal is cross tethered to the vehicle,  
            or the animal is protected by a secured container, cage, or  
            other apparatus in a manner that will prevent the animal from  
            being discharged from the vehicle.

           This bill  makes it unlawful for a person to drive a motor  
          vehicle while holding a live animal in his or her arm or arms,  
          or upon his or her lap.
          
          COMMENTS:

           1.Purpose  .  This bill is about safety.  The author asserts that  
            it is an extremely dangerous proposition to operate a vehicle  
            while holding a live animal, and it can be extremely hazardous  
            for other drivers on the road as well.  Current law does not  
            address this issue.

           2.Why is this bill needed  ?   What is the public safety issue  
            this bill seeks to address?  While some drivers may drive with  
            animals in their laps, it is unclear the extent to which these  
            animals distract drivers or contribute to collisions.  The  
            California Highway Patrol maintains data relating to ten  
            causes of driver distraction, noting at the scene of an  
            accident whether inattention was a factor and, if so, the  
            cause.  Aside from "other," the causes of distraction most  
            frequently cited by law enforcement from 2001 through 2007 are  
            cell phone usage and operating the radio or CD player.   
            "Animal" is consistently ranked ninth out of ten causes of  
            driver distraction.  

            From 2002 through 2007, there were just 755 collisions, three  
            of which involved a fatality, where an associated factor was  
            listed as "animal."  Because the data do not indicate where in  
            the vehicle the animal was located or what it was doing, these  
            data likely reflect a larger number of situations than this  
            bill addresses.  

            Moreover, existing law allows law enforcement to stop a driver  
            for a variety of unsafe driving behaviors, regardless of the  
            cause for the driver's behavior.  Unsafe speed, reckless  




          AB 2233 (MAZE)                                           Page 3

                                                                       


            driving, and crossing a double yellow line are examples of  
            unsafe driving for which law enforcement may stop and cite a  
            driver.  Given the low probability that driving with an animal  
            in the driver's lap will lead to a collision, what would be  
            achieved by an officer stopping a driver who is otherwise  
            safely operating the vehicle in accordance with the law?
          
           3.Achieve the author's objective  ?  The intent of the bill  
            appears to be to prevent or reduce one type of driver  
            distraction:  animals sitting on drivers' laps.   
            Animal-related distractions, however, could come from animal  
            behaviors other than sitting on the driver's lap.  Examples  
            include an animal roaming back and forth between the front and  
            back seats or cowering on the floor amongst the gas and brake  
            pedals.  Furthermore, animals sitting on one's lap may be  
            calmer and thus less distracting than those engaged in other  
            behaviors that would continue to be permitted under this bill.  
             The bill is unlikely to achieve the author's objective given  
            its narrow scope.

          Assembly Votes:
               Floor:    44-20
               Appr: 11-5
               Trans:    9-1

           POSITIONS:  (Communicated to the Committee before noon on  
                     Wednesday,                              
                      June 11, 2008)

               SUPPORT:  American Pet Products Manufacturers Association,  
          Inc.
                         Eagle Forum of Sacramento
                         PetPAC
                         State Humane Association of California
                         2 individuals
          
               OPPOSED:  4 individuals