Calif. teen-texting loophole closed

California teens are breaking the law if they text message while driving. Period. Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation closing a loophole that allowed drivers under 18 to use voice-activated technology to text while driving. The novice drivers aren't allowed to use communications devices such as smartphones, whether hand-held or hands-free. (Adults are permitted to use hands-free devices.) But a 2012 revision to California's distracted driving laws permits use of hands-free technology for texting, and that change applied to all drivers. The 2012 change to the driving laws followed … [Read more...]

Florida’s texting law already targeted

Florida's debate over distracted driving is far from over, even though the Sunshine State finally has a ban on texting while driving. The new text messaging law, which went into effect Oct. 1, isn't getting much respect from safety experts, survivors groups, the press and some lawmakers, many of whom cite the ban's secondary-enforcement status as weak and ineffectual. State Sen. Maria Sachs (pictured) used the bully pulpit of day 1 of the texting law to propose an upgrade to primary enforcement, which allows police to stop and cite violators for that reason alone. Secondary enforcement … [Read more...]

N.Y. signs off on ‘texting zones’

New York is setting up "texting zones" on state thruways and highways, with rest stops, Park-n-Ride lots and the like doing double duty as safe harbors for text messaging. Sorry, no cyber cafes or blazing-fast wireless service. The initiative appears to boil down to 298 highway signs going up urging motorists to pull off the highway -- safely and in designated areas -- instead of engaging in distracted driving. "We are sending a clear message to drivers that there is no excuse to take your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road because your text can wait until the next texting zone," … [Read more...]

Illinois bans handheld cell phones

Illinois drivers will have to put down their cell phones come Jan. 1. Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law an Illinois ban on use of handheld mobile devices while driving. The state already prohibits text messaging while driving. Fines range from $75 (first offense) to $150. "Too many Illinois families have suffered because of accidents that could have been prevented," Quinn said after the signing. The governor's approval of Aug. 16, which was expected, is another victory in the distracted driving arena for state Rep. John D'Amico, longtime leader of the Transportation Committee … [Read more...]

N.Y. texting fines up to $400

New York's fines for electronic distracted driving have increased, as part of the state's multi-pronged attack on drivers who text message and use handheld cell phones. Fines max out at $400 for serial offenders. The tougher fines were included in the 2013-14 state budget. New York's governor said the move would address "a frightening epidemic on our roadways," calling the increase in traffic fines "an important tool to punish and prevent this reckless behavior." They are in addition to the late May hike in DMV points against violators' licenses to five. Points can be reflected in … [Read more...]