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Calif. law proposed to fine cyclists who text

June 21, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
California drivers are banned from texting on their cell phones behind the wheel. Now California lawmakers want to extend that ban to cyclists.The bill cleared an assembly committee Monday.

The tougher cell phone proposal at least doubles the fines for drivers caught in California calling or texting on a handheld cell phone. After court fees, the tab could be in the hundreds of dollars.

The bill was amended so that violators would also get a point added to their driving record on their second offense, instead of their first.

The same proposal cracks down for the first time on cyclists talking or texting while on their bikes.

They were inadvertently left out in the original law.

It's $20 for the first offense and $50 thereafter.

"I think this is a common sense measure to make sure that we do what the law should have done in the first place, which is cover anybody who's out there on the highway," said State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto)

Since kids could be ticketed, the fines for bicyclists will not include add-on fees or add a point to driving records.

While there isn't much research on cyclists and accidents while using a handheld, many follow the rules that apply to drivers anyway and avoid the phone while riding.

"I don't want to get killed," said Steve Petty, a cyclist. "I need all my focus on my bicycle, especially my bicycle. It's crazy."

But some cyclists wonder why a law is needed when common sense dictates they should be concentrating on the road.

"Don't they have anything else to do?" cyclist Gordon Wright said. "Can't they balance the budget? I mean, that seems like a waste of everybody's time. Don't you think?"

The proposal also calls on the DMV to add more questions on cell phone use or texting on the exam for drivers.

Just two are in the rotation out of 360.

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