Western News

1HomePageMap small w 0816Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in California, NevadaOregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, Alaska and Wyoming

Doubting that a proposed total ban on cellphone use behind the wheel could be enforced, the nation’s highway safety officials September 26 declined to endorse a prohibition according to reports made by the Washington Post.

The Governors Highway Safety Association set aside a California proposal that the group press for state legislatures to consider a complete ban.

“We don’t want this to become like the speeding issue, which we’ve already lost. Everybody speeds,” Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the GHSA, said from the group’s annual meeting in Kansas City, MO. “They haven’t shown that the laws we already have,” such as requiring the use of hands-free devices or banning texting while driving, “are very effective.”


The California Senate has approved a bill bringing the state's commercial driver's licensing rules in compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations regarding out-of-service offenders.

The senate voted unanimously to approve a bill that would bring the state's commercial driver's licensing rules in compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations regarding out-of-service ("OOS") offenders. Assembly lawmakers then approved the changes to the bill, Assembly Bill 2144 and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law on August 30th.

Out-of-Service violations are typically issued when inspectors find a driver or vehicle defect so severe that it must be corrected for the driver to operate the vehicle safely. Out-of-service orders often result from hours-of-service (driving too many hours) and commercial drivers license (CDL) violations, as well as other basic safety equipment issues, like the lights and brakes.

California today is better prepared than any other state to take advantage of federal health care reform enacted by Congress. Now voters need to elect an insurance commissioner with the will and expertise to make this a national model for health coverage.

The commissioner will be California's point person to get residents the best coverage possible for the lowest possible price while maintaining a healthy business climate for insurers.

The clear choice on Nov. 2 is Democrat Dave Jones, the Sacramento assemblyman who has served admirably as chairman of both the health and judicial committees in the Assembly.

Jones' opponent, Republican Mike Villines, is a courageous politician by California standards. His principled stand in 2009 to get a balanced budget through the Legislature cost him his position as Assembly minority leader. He would likely do as solid of a job as the current insurance commissioner, Republican Steve Poizner, in fulfilling the basic responsibilities. But Villines is on record as opposing federal health care reform. He wants to use the office to emphasize reducing insurance fraud, a worthy but perennial goal for candidates.

Jones has a long record of working to rein in health insurance premiums. Most recently, he was instrumental in passing the legislation making California the first state to set up a health care exchange for the uninsured. He would do far more than Villines to see that consumers get the greatest benefit possible under federal reforms.

Outside of the governor, the insurance commissioner may have a bigger impact on the lives of Californians than any other elected official. This race is important. And Dave Jones is the right choice.

The Yuba-Sutter office of the California Highway Patrol is asking the public's help in finding the driver of a pickup who struck and killed a pedestrian Sept. 24 north of Marysville.

Carlos Soto Lopez, 64, of Yuba County was killed about 7:30 p.m. on Highway 70 near Ramirez Road in District 10.

The driver of the pickup stopped after striking Lopez, whose cowboy hat came to rest in the road. When a second vehicle, described by a witness as a brown or tan Chrysler, ran over the hat, the pickup driver pulled back onto the road and left the scene, said Officer Jeff Larson, CHP spokesman.

The driver of the Chrysler, believed to be a 1980-90s model, or anyone else with information, is asked to call the CHP at 674-5141 or 879-1900.

The extended cab pickup was a U.S. model from 2000 or later. It may have a lift and oversized tires, Larson said.

Investigators think the pickup driver is from the Marysville, Oroville or Chico area. He likely did not see Lopez and had little or no time to react because the area was dark and there are no street lights.

"The pickup sustained front end damage and may be parked in a garage or getting repaired at a body shop" in one of the three cities, the CHP said.

Lopez lived nearby and frequented the Walnut Tree Bar, known by patrons as Papa's. Bar patrons not already interviewed by investigators are also asked to call the CHP.

"Investigators and the victim's family are determined to close this case," Larson said.

Poll results recently released by a California insurance organization indicate that half of 800 respondents disagree with the idea that communities should levy fees on out-of-town motorists who cause accidents that require city-funded emergency response services.

An even greater proportion (62 percent) opposed the practice after being informed that auto insurance carriers typically receive the bills for such fees. Although some do, not all insurers will cover accident response fees. OnlineAutoInsurance.com encourages policyholders concerned about these fees to contact their insurers to find out if they're covered.

There has been growing discussion in California in recent months about the appropriateness of these accident response fees. With the economy still sluggish---unemployment rates are still hovering above 12 percent---municipal tax revenue is down, and cities are looking for ways to plug budget holes.

Attorney General Edmund G. Brown has filed a $6.6 million lawsuit against eight car washes owned by members of the Sikder family -- proprietors of the Hollywood restaurant named Koi -- after an investigation revealed a "widespread pattern of worker exploitation," unpaid wages and illegal business practices.

"While Koi served up yellowtail tartare and Kobe beef carpaccio to Hollywood celebrities, the restaurant's owners routinely denied wages, breaks and overtime pay to workers at their unlicensed car washes," Brown said. "Today's lawsuit seeks to end this widespread pattern of worker exploitation."