Once upon a time we all could be seen with one hand on the wheel and the other keeping our cell phone glued to our ear. But thankfully, for our sakes, the California legislature stepped in with two laws prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving: Hands Free Cell Phones, which went into effect on July 1, 2008, and the Texting While Driving Prohibition, which outlawed texting while driving as of Jan. 1, 2009. The author of both pieces of legislation, State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), whose jurisdiction includes Santa Cruz, said in a Feb. 17 press release that the laws have been as successful as expected. California Highway Patrol certified numbers from the first six months of the “hands free” law’s implementation shows a 20 percent drop in fatalities and collisions in California, when compared to the same six month period in the past three to five years. “That translates to at least 700 fewer fatalities and 75,000 to 100,000 fewer collisions each year,” Simitian said in the release, adding that CHP data shows a 40 to 50 percent drop in the number of “distracting driving accidents attributed to cell phones” following the law’s July, 2008 implementation.