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September 14, 2007

This Just In: California Governor Bars Cellphone Use By Teen Drivers

Ap_cellphone_while_driving According to an article at the Los Angeles Times,  California Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation that will prohibit Californians under  18 from using cellphones, text message devices, and laptop computers while driving.

The new law, which will takes effect July 1, 2008, is meant to address the large number of traffic accidents resulting in deaths and injuries, Schwarzenegger said during a signing ceremony at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, adding "This is to eliminate a major distraction for our young, inexperienced drivers and to make our roadways safer for everybody."

As the parent of two teenage daughters, the Governator has already enacted his own cellphone ban in their home, saying "I told my daughters: 'I give you the car. I give you the cellphone, but if I see you one time using both at the same time, both of them are gone.' " Schwarzenegger added, " 'The car will be gone for a long time and the phone will be gone for a long time. You go to school with the bus.' They know that."

When it goes into effect on July 1, 2008, the law will prohibit all cell-phone use, including hands-free devices, by drivers under the age of 18. Meanwhile, the rest of California's drivers must  go hands-free when using their cell phones by the same deadline. Teen violators will face a possible $20 fine for a first offense, and $50 for subsequent offenses.

According to  Teresa Becher, chief of the Golden Gate Division of the California Highway Patrol, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 16- to 20-year-old. Reducing distractions among new drivers is just one of the methods of encouraging safer driving;  prohibiting the use of cellphones and text message devices is a positive step to ensure safer teen driving.

by Brandy Schaffels
Contributing Editor and mother of a 14-year-old, soon-to-be teen driver.

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