by Anne Tiegen
While it might seem crazy to most folks, driving while texting is a new threat to traffic safety.
In one poll, some 66 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds said they drive while sending a text-message. And now to keep the roads safe, the California Legislature passed and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law that prohibits drivers from sending, writing or reading messages on electronic devices beginning Jan. 1. The penalties and further details about the new law are laid out in these articles (Associated Press, Los Angeles Times). California now becomes the sixth state to ban texting while driving.
Washington became the first state to pass such a law in May 2007. New Jersey lawmakers passed a similar restriction in November 2007. At least four other states considered similar legislation during the same year. One major city—Phoenix.—also prohibits driving while texting.
Many states already have laws related to cell phone use in the car. Six states -California, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Utah and Washington - and the District of Columbia have banned hand-held phone use by all drivers.
Lawmakers at the local, state and federal levels are examining a wide variety of issues related to driver focus, the most common concern is the potential distraction caused by cell phones and other technology in the car. Driver focus has always been and will remain a traffic safety issue for lawmakers.
Anne Tiegen covers transportation issues for NCSL.