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‘Hands-off’ driving law in California is OK’d for ages 16, 17

Author: Lowell Steiger

Published On: September 14, 2007

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (California) has sent a message to young drivers: no text messaging, no cell phone calls, no using laptops. At least not while behind the wheel. Schwarzenegger signed legislation yesterday that will make it illegal for drivers younger than 18 to engage in such activities. Reported in today’s issue of This law will take effect on July 1, 2008.

Violators face a fine of $20 for the first offense; $50 for each additional ticket. There is an exemption for emergencies.

The article goes on to say: “The dangers of sending text messages via cell phones or other electronic devices has been documented regardless of age.

“Last month, an 18-year-old driver in Phoenix who was text-messaging hit another car, killing herself and the other driver. In 2005, a Sacramento area police officer was struck and killed by a 26-year-old driver who was texting a friend while driving. Police suspect text-messaging played a role in a horrific head-on crash this summer in New York state that killed five teenagers who had just graduated from high school five days earlier. The 17-year-old driver had been text-messaging just moments before. She was among the dead.”

Please, folks, regardless of when the law goes into effect, use your cell phones judiciously. I was personally involved in an accident a few months ago where the other driver was so engrossed in her cell phone conversation that she blew right through a red light.

How nuts is that? To text message and drive at the same time — what are those people thinking? The problem is that they may wind up unable to text message or think or both after they veer into an oncoming car (see photo on left). It only takes a second. Please please please be safe.

Update: 2009 Law Bans Text Messaging while Driving – See Video

Here are some interesting links to articles and videos related to the issue of cell phones and text messaging while driving:

Insurance Information Institute: Cell Phones and Driving

Video: Cell Phone While Driving: Courtesy of

Cell Phones and Highway Safety: 2005 Legislative Update: National Conference of State Legislatures

Video: Driving and the Cell Phone – Hidden Dangers: Courtesy of

Cell Phone Accidents and Stories:

Video Expose: LA School Bus Drivers Driving While on Cell Phone: Courtesy of and KCAL Channel 9

Drivers on Cell Phones Kills Thousands:

Video Dr. Phil: Teenage Girl Texting While Driving: Courtesy of

Cell Phones As Dangerous As Drunk Driving:

Video High School Commercial: Don’t Text While Driving (Graphic): Courtesy of

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