I was just reading at Meta-Dad about California’s new cell phone driving laws (going into effect on July 1, 2008) and I’ve got to say I’m a little peeved. This is the same bill I wrote about in September, 2006 – and I didn’t like it then.
Either the hands-free device manufacturers have a really good lobby, or California really needs the $20-$60 per offense this will get them.
First a little disclosure: I may be biased on this one. I work in the telecommunications industry. The more minutes people use on my network, the better chance I have of staying employed.
However, I don’t really think I’m all that biased. I don’t think most people should be driving while talking, dialing, or texting. Those distractions are more than most people can handle. However, those aren’t the only distractions that can come at a driver. The same people that shouldn’t drive while talking on their phone may also be the people who shouldn’t drive while talking to a passenger. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:
Politicians get huge points from voters for signing such bans, but singling out cell phones (or any other single item, such as a TV) is not even half the battle…Some people can eat a sandwich and drive. Some people can talk on their cell phone and drive. Some people can’t even talk on their hands-free phone while driving. Some people can’t even tune their radio and drive. We need more generalized distracted driving laws.
Not specific laws for specific distractions. At least, if politicians really wanted to make our roads safer, that’s the kind of laws we’d get. Of course, most states have some type of law covering distractions, so any politician who’s trying to make our roads safer with a cell phone ban is really just pandering to voters. Even California already had a distracted driving law. It’s even pointed out in the FAQ that Meta-Dad so dutifully gives us:
Q: Does the new “hands-free” law allow drivers 18 and over to text message while driving?
A: The law does not specifically prohibit that, but an officer can pull over and issue a citation to a driver of any age if, in the officer’s opinion, the driver was distracted and not operating the vehicle safely. Sending text messages while driving is unsafe at any speed and is strongly discouraged.
[emphasis added by der5er]
So, to sum up: Don’t get caught talking on your phone in California without a hands free device, or if you’re under 18. And don’t eat a sandwich while driving.
- My Thoughts: California’s Cell phone ban