FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove — Burbank
The reckless and foolish habit of texting and driving is now against the law in California as of yesterday, January first. The ban includes being stopped in traffic, at a stop sign or signal light. Since there is no grace period with this new law, the crackdown is in full force right now. To that I say Yiippee!
The fines appear to be light with the first offense at $20 and $50 for future violations, however according to the DMV website, additional fees and penalties could more than triple the original fine. For the text-junkies out there the law applies to all writing, sending, and reading of written messages on electronic devices.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 28 into law last September saying: “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.” Well, I don’t know about all that, especially if you look at what happened with SB 1613 — the law requiring drivers to use hands free phones.
The state law prohibiting handheld cell phones and driving went into effect July first of 2008. In the weeks that followed, I did see fewer motorists speeding down the road holding a phone in one hand. Unfortunately, lately I’ve noticed more and more drivers have boldly gone back to this bad habit. Enforcement is key. Stubborn drivers who insist on breaking the law should be hit with hefty fines. Also, the crackdown should never let up on these offenders.
Another way to deal with the problem is to offer an alternative. Since so many get the urge to text or yak into a cell phone while driving — why not a new campaign telling them to pull over and park. You can use any of these electronic devices legally if you are parked.