Drivers gear up for text message ban

December 26, 2008 5:34:50 PM PST
Drivers say sometimes you just cannot help it.

"Yeah you shouldn't be texting while you're driving, but sometimes, the spur of the moment, you get a text and you got to return the text; it might be your boss texting you," Oakland resident Erik Salvador said.

Even if it is your boss, starting January 1, 2009, sending or reading a text message while driving is going to cost you.

"What we want is motorists to realize is driving a motor vehicle is already multi-tasking," California Highway Patrol spokesperson Officer Sam Morgan said.

Talking on a cell without a hands-free device became illegal in California in July, but text messaging was not included in that law.

Now all phone use from behind the wheel must be hands-free. That also means no dialing or talking on the speaker phone while holding the phone in your hand.

"If you have to send a text message, pull off the roadway, don't stop on the freeway, pull all the way off the freeway, a safe area, send and receive your message, then resume your travel," Morgan said.

Palo Alto Democrat Joe Simitian sponsored the texting legislation. He calls it life saving.

"If I told you we had 5 to 6 million drunk drivers on the road in California, folks would be up in arms," Simitian said.

But with many drivers shamelessly flaunting the current cell phone ban, some wonder whether officers will really be able to enforce a new ban on texting, especially since the task itself, and the clear cut signs of repeatedly looking down and looking up, is more difficult to spot.

"I don't think that many people follow them and i don't know if that many cops will care," Oakland resident Kevin Kim said.

The fine for texting will be $20 for the first violation, $50 every time after.


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