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New California Law to Ban Texting While Biking

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It may seem like a no-brainer that you shouldn’t be texting while riding a bicycle. But, in California the issue is now being addressed by a proposed law, which would make it illegal to ride a bicycle and text. According to a CBS news report, Senator Joe Simitian, a Palo Alto Democrat, who authored the 2008 California law mandating the use of hands-free technology while driving, has proposed extending this law to bicyclists in an effort to prevent serious injury bicycle accidents. Senate Bill 1475 would essentially ban bicyclists from texting or talking without a headset or some type of hands-free device. A first offense could generate a $20 fine and a subsequent offense will cost the bicyclist $50 with no additional fees. This bill, which is being supported by the California Bicycle Coalition, is currently working its way through the state senate. Lawmakers are hoping that it will be passed by the end of 2012.

The Need for a Texting Ban

Why should we have a law that bans texting while riding a bike while it seems like the logical things to do? A parallel can be drawn here for the reasons California enacted the mandatory motorcycle helmet law in 1992. During the first year alone there was a 37.5 percent decrease in motorcycle crash fatalities. Those likely to sustain traumatic brain injuries as a result of motorcycle accidents also decreased by 34 percent.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2009, 5,474 people were killed and 448,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. Also, 16 percent of fatal crashes and 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving.

Safety for Bicyclists

Distracted driving has become an epidemic in the United States. As a bicyclist, when you take your hands off the handlebar, eyes off the road, or attention off riding, you significantly increase the risk of crashing or becoming involved in a collision. With more and more people getting on bikes, it is important that we extend cell phone and texting bans to bicyclists. As cities in Southern California plan more bike lanes and better infrastructure for bicyclists, it is also important to think about enacting laws that will keep bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists safer. As a California personal injury lawyer who represents victims of bicycle accidents, I support this bill 100 percent. Please ride safely.

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