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California Is Sixth Anti-Texting Behind Wheel State

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, September 25, 2008 11:24 AM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Teens, Text Messaging, Teens Texting, Auto Accidents, Head Injuries, Wrongful Death

California bans texting behind the wheel

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IMAGE SOURCE:© iStockphoto/ teen texting/ roundhill

 

Laws are slowly beginning to catch up to our latest talk technology.

California is the latest state  to adopt a ban on texting-while-driving. The law, written by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, will take effect January 1.

"Building on legislation already helping save lives in California, I am happy to sign this bill because it further encourages safe and responsible driving," Gov. Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "Banning electronic text-messaging while driving will keep drivers' hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, making our roadways a safer place for all Californians."

If you are driving in the state and caught using a cell phone to write, read, or send a message, you face a $20 ticket the first time. Subsequent offenses will yield a $50 ticket. 

SB 28 received overwhelming support in the legislature but critics say the fine is too small and may not be worth the time for law enforcement to pull someone over.

Simitian also authored a law that requires cell phone users to use a hands-free device while driving.

A third law, prohibits teenage drivers under the age of 18 to operate a cell phone while behind the wheel of a vehicle. Both went into effect July 1.

"Texting while driving seems so obviously unsafe, it's hard to believe anyone would attempt it, yet everyday observation tells us it's all too common," Simitian said to the San Jose Mercury News. "I think this bill is a lifesaver."

Last week, after a Metrolink engineer was found to have been sending and receiving text messages before he ran head-on into a Union Pacific freight train – a collision that killed 25 – California’s Public Utilities Commission voted to impose a texting ban on all train engineers, conductors and brakemen while on duty.

An estimated 20 percent of drivers are texting while behind the wheel, according to a Nationwide Insurance study.   Among young people, between the ages of 18 to 24, that number skyrockets to 66 percent.

According to NHTSA, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15 to 20 year-olds, so adding a distracting device which requires the user to concentrate on a tiny screen while punching miniature keys, does nothing to improve that record. 

California joins five states - Washington State, Alaska, Louisiana, Minnesota, and New Jersey in prohibit texting while driving. 

In Washington, it is a secondary offense, meaning an officer cannot pull you over for that offense alone, otherwise you are facing a $125 fine.

In Washington, the legislation has had little effect.

Last week, the Seattle Post- Intelligencer reports that in the nine months since the ban took effect, a total of two tickets for the offense have been filed in Seattle Municipal Court. Statewide, 58 citations have been issued, a small portion of the nearly one million traffic stops made there so far this year. 

The city of Chicago is considering a ban. Violators would face a $75 fine, up to $200 if a crash occurs.

Westchester County, New York goes into effect March 9, 2009. Voted in by the County Board of Legislature, it carries a $150 fine for each violation.

Jott and Pinger are two new services that allow you to call in your text messages to be transcribed and sent. #


1 Comment

Posted by Tara
Thursday, September 25, 2008 1:53 PM EST

Hi everyone,

I work at Pinger. Just a quick note:

Contrary to the last line in this article, Pinger doesn't actually listen to or transcribe your text messages.

To use Pinger, call the Pinger number and say the name of the person you want to message. Then speak your message and hang up. Your friend immediately gets a notification that they have a message from you. They call the number in the notification and hear your message playing right away (in your own voice). Then they can reply or forward with just one button press.

With Pinger you use your voice -- so you can keep your thumbs on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road.

To give it a try, sign up at LINK .


T

Comments for this article are closed.

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