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Plan to ban text messaging while driving

August 22, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
You can't talk on your cell phone while driving, and it appears you soon won't be able to text message while behind the wheel either. State legislators have approved a bill to ban messaging while driving. Some Republicans were against the measure, arguing that there are already laws on the books that cover these driving distractions. Still, others in the Senate want a specific law to deal with text messaging.

The state already requires adult drivers to use hands-free devices for cell phones. It bars 16- and 17-year-olds from using any device to talk or text while driving.

According to a recent survey, more than 50 percent of the people questioned said they text while driving and 66 percent said they read text messages while driving.

A number of California residents think the law is a good idea.

"I definitely think it should be illegal," said Richard Pascale of Pasadena. "I think it's something that when you're not watching the road somebody can get hurt, definitely."

"I had a little accident myself when I was texting, so it should be illegal," said Lito Baysn.

"It's a great idea," said Marisela Campas. "The fact that in California you can't use your cell phone while you're driving is a great idea, you know, everybody has to go to the earphones. And I didn't see the point in it if you still had people texting."

If the bill does become law the fine for a first offense will be $20. Repeat offenses could result in $50 fines.

When it comes to the punishment, a lot of people just don't think the fine is enough. Even those who have been guilty of texting and driving think lawmakers need to get tougher. Some see it as the only way to really send a message to those who can't stop texting while they drive.

"You know what, that's not going to hurt anybody," said one motorist. "I think they should up that. I would think $100 at least."

"Not especially when you see how high there's tickets for less, you know, violations that are less grievous than the texting," said Campas.

The bill is now headed to Gov. Schwarzenegger to sign it into law. He has hinted in the past that he's in favor of the measure, however the governor says he's not going to sign anything until the state budget is done.

 

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