Text messaging

California Jumps on the No Cell Phone for Teen Drivers Bandwagon

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger terminated teen drivers’ rights to talk on the cell phone and drive at the same time through the signing of a bill that will go into effect in July 2008. This bill involves teen drivers under the age of 18 and states that no cell phone use is allowed period while behind the wheel of the car.

There is another bill that is also going into affect at the same time that involves another cell phone and driving situation. In this instance, drivers age 18 and up can use a cell phone but only if it is a hands-free device. No texting and no hand held phones are allowed. The bill restricting the total use of cell phones for teens is in response to collected data that shows inattention of teens are the primary cause of accidents.

While the two bills are nice in theory, there are a few problems with them as well. First of all, how are these going to be enforced effectively? A cop could see a driver going down the road with a cell phone to their ear talking and flash his lights to alert the driver to pull over. Any smart driver would ditch the evidence quickly out of sight to make it a he said/she said scenario. How exactly can the cop prove that the cell phone was in use at the time?

Another thing, the fines for someone getting caught breaking these new upcoming laws are laughable. How exactly are $20 and $50 fines going to be much of an incentive for teens as well as older adults affected? Unless they are habitual offenders and have the worst luck at being caught, these fines are nothing more than a shoulder shrugging, “oh well.”

These laws about cell phone use and driving should be viewed as a first step of many to curb teen accidents and fatalities on the road. While the laws may have trouble being enforced, the essence of them is important. Now the teens know that there are consequences and could have the possibility of having their driving privileges and cell phone taken away from them by the parents. That is what teens are truly afraid of, not being ticketed for it, because some kids have that money as pocket change and can pay the fine without a parent even knowing about it.

The bottom line is that these laws will make the teen pause while driving and decide whether that phone call or text message is truly important. Making teens stopping to think about the consequences of their driving behavior is usually half the battle. The other half is actually the law and parents enforcing the consequences of teen driving behavior.