New CA cell phone law: why not ban text messaging?
June 26, 2008 10:45 AM   Subscribe

California's new law that bans talking into a cell phone while in a vehicle, starts next week. What's the reason why text messaging was not explicitly banned also?

I would have thought texting is just as unsafe, if not more so, than talking on a cell phone. Were legislators afraid their bill couldn't be passed if they banned texting? Or was the thinking that texting would be covered by some other unsafe driving law?
posted by jaimev to Law & Government (16 answers total)
 
It takes a long time for a law to get passed. After it got passed, I think it was about a year before it took effect. Way back when this started through the legislature, texting didn't seem like a problem (who would be so stupid??). This has been mentioned several times in the local paper (SJ Mercury News) so you can probably find a discussion on line if you look for it.
posted by metahawk at 10:49 AM on June 26, 2008


The FAQ you link to refers to "using a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle," which in my reading would cover calling, texting, playing games, browsing the web and whatever else people do with cellphones. I guess that'll be for the courts to settle, though.

(I'm not a lawyer, and if I were, I might try to read the actual laws before making these kinds of judgments.)
posted by box at 10:50 AM on June 26, 2008


According to the law, it doesn't appear to make a distinction between talking and texting. It just says "using a wireless telephone."

23123. (a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:51 AM on June 26, 2008


Q: What is the difference between the two laws?
A: The first prohibits all drivers from using a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle, (Vehicle Code (VC) §23123). Motorists 18 and over may use a "hands-free device." Drivers under the age of 18 may NOT use a wireless telephone or hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle (VC §23124).

To me, that means using the phone at all. Which means no texting.
posted by theichibun at 10:51 AM on June 26, 2008


FYI, the first link to DMV's FAQ says:

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.

posted by jaimev at 10:55 AM on June 26, 2008


1. Theoretically, California's version of "inattentive driving" could be used to pop drivers who text while driving.

2. What may also happen is some test case will allow the courts to fully define the phrase "using a wireless telephone." That is, an officer will use this law to charge a texter/driver and the driver will take the case to court. The case will makes its way through the system and an appellate court will drop the hammer and define "using a wireless telephone" as either including or not including texting while driving.
posted by December at 11:08 AM on June 26, 2008


i puld sum strngs lol omfg pile up gg


It could be that there's no certain way to catch people texting, as opposed to doing other passable activities, like checking their medical pager.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:10 AM on June 26, 2008


Because texting is already covered by the other laws make it illegal to read books, BBQ, oil paint and do other obviously dangerous crap while driving.

Since most people don't think talking while driving is dangerous, they needed a new law.
posted by Ookseer at 11:31 AM on June 26, 2008




texting is way more dangerous than talking on the phone while driving. Mythbusters even did a episode where they showed that texting while driving is actually worse than being drunk while driving. Its in the law, but not stated explicitly. So you can get arrested for it
posted by radsqd at 11:54 AM on June 26, 2008


Some digging found this interview of State Senator Joe Simitian who wrote the original bill. It appeared he wasn't willing to risk not passing the cell phone ban by adding a text messaging ban as well. He hopes push through SB 28 by the end of the year, which does explicitly ban text messaging.
posted by jaimev at 12:08 PM on June 26, 2008


California's new law that bans talking into a cell phone while in a vehicle

Just to clarify, it doesn't ban cell phone use while in a vehicle. It bans cell phone use while operating the vehicle.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:23 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd say this covers the question perfectly, so maybe the original poster will mark it as the best answer?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:34 PM on June 26, 2008


I'd say this covers the question perfectly, so maybe the original poster will mark it as the best answer?

I thought it was bad form to mark an answer to my own question as best, but what the heck. Done.
posted by jaimev at 12:43 PM on June 26, 2008


Mythbusters even did a episode where they showed that texting while driving is actually worse than being drunk while driving.

This episode? That was talking on the phone, not texting.

Not to say texting isn't as, if not more, dangerous. Just for the sake of accuracy.
posted by CKmtl at 2:04 PM on June 26, 2008


I know a guy, just saying, who actually went to court and fought a "talking on a cell whilst operating a vehicle" charge, because the cop saw him do it while he was stopped at an intersection, then pulled him over and wrote him up.

Buddy argued that it was an emergency incoming call, so he turned the vehicle off while stopped at the intersection and took the call.

Cop's write-up had specified that the officer witnessed him talking on the phone while stopped at the intersection.

Buddy argued that cop couldn't prove the vehicle was being operated or not.

Not guilty.
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:03 AM on June 27, 2008


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