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New Law Banning Hand-Held Cell Phone Use While Driving Is Much Needed

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There are several new driving laws going into effect in 2008. But the most important one in our opinion is the law that relates to cell phone and other use of communication such as texting while driving.

There are two new laws that go into effect July 1, 2008. All California adult drivers will be required to use a hands-free device and prohibit anyone below 18 years old from using a wireless telephone or texting device while driving.

SB 1613 outlines the law as it relates to adults. This law will make it illegal, effective July 1, 2008 “to drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone, unless that telephone is designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking operation, and is used in that manner while driving. This offense would be punishable by a base fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. The bill would provide that this prohibition does not apply to a person who is using the cellular telephone to contact a law enforcement agency or public safety entity for emergency purposes, or to an emergency services professional while he or she operates an authorized emergency vehicle, as specified.” For more information on this law, please visit this Web site.

Similarly, SB 33 outlines the law as it relates to drivers 18 years or under. This law prohibits “a person under the age of 18 years from driving a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone, even if equipped with a hands-free device, or while using a mobile service device, as defined. The prohibition would not apply to such a person using a wireless telephone or a mobile service device for emergency purposes.” For more information on this particular law, click here.

It’s about time these laws were enacted in California where it’s not uncommon to see a driver actually driving with a burrito in one hand and cell phone in the other. This type of behavior mostly stems from the “it-won’t-happen-to-me” attitude. But every day, the news gives us evidence that, yes, it can happen to anyone, anywhere, any time. We face enough risks on the road already. It doesn’t have to be worsened by cell phone use.

In fact, cell phone use tops the list of driver distractions in our country. A California Highway Patrol study recently found that the leading factors causing distracted driving accidents are:

1. Cell phone use 2. Attending to children 3. Eating
While it may be extremely tempting to use your cell phone while driving, remember that the risk of having an accident increases by 400 percent every time you use your cell phone while driving. Your attention is diverted especially when you are dialing a phone number or deeply involved in a conversation. Doing other things such as checking your e-mail or texting can also be extremely dangerous because these activities take your focus off the road. It’s not worth your life, the life of your loved one or anyone else in your community or elsewhere.

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  • Sandra Eggers

    John, good post. Very informative. Thanks!

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