Schwarzenegger Signs Bill Banning Minors From Using Cellphones While Driving

Sorry, kids. It’s now illegal for you to talk on your cellphones while driving in California. Why? Because you’re bad at it, and let’s face it… you’re not that good at driving in the first place. Sadly for you, it’s much easier to slap a ban on you (rather than your parents) because you don’t vote and you have limited rights. Ha, ha, ha.

Teens cited under SB33, authored by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, face a fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 each time after that. Officials said traffic officers will not be allowed to pull drivers over simply because of a cell phone infraction, and violations will not count as part of the traffic safety point system. Emergency calls will be exempt.

Fifteen other states and the District of Columbia have similar restrictions on teenage drivers.

Bay Area teenagers interviewed Thursday said they aren’t sure the new regulations are fair.

“That’s insane – it’s madness,” said Cameron Young of San Francisco, who, at 13, has a few years before he can get his license. “No technology? I’m speechless. Not cool, not cool at all.”

Sorry, kids.

Guv signs law banning minors from using cell phones while driving [SFGate]
(Photo:mrbill)

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  1. blue_duck says:

    *sad music* Wa wa waaaaaaaa. Let me wait until the neighbor’s daughter doesn’t almost hit my car once a day with her suv then I’ll consider the fairness…

  2. madktdisease says:

    “No technology? I’m speechless. Not cool, not cool at all.”

    Hitting pedestrians: Not cool. Not cool at all.

    I had to think about wether I agree with this, but they aren’t adults. They do have limited rights, and I am a safe, non-aggressive driver now, but I was terrible when I was 16-17. Terrible. Even adults with experience drive all shatty when they’re on a cellphone.

    The only thing that irritated me about underage driving limitations was that I didn’t get bussed to school and was left without rides because my friends couldn’t drive me and my parents worked. An exemption for driving to/from school would’ve been nice!

  3. hapless says:

    Younger drivers are, without exception, at The worst adult drivers are still vastly more experienced than the best and most careful probationary license holders.

    The only thing that bothers me about these prohibitions are how toothless they are. No points on the license, not a primary offense, and a fine equivalent to two hours labor? No one will ever be cited for this, and it will in no way provide a deterrent to unsafe behaviour. They’re “doing something” without actually doing something.

  4. I live across the street from a high school and at least two or three times a week I see the teenagers there pulling out blindly and chatting on their cell phones. Or texting. I’m 100% in favor of this ban, wish it was in effect here in VA.

  5. spinachdip says:

    I wish they’d ban dialing and driving for adults too. That shit doesn’t get safer with age. But I guess when it’s the grown ups making the rules, they get to keep the toys.

  6. blue_duck says:

    Where I live, my biggest problems besides the teens driving all crazy like are soccer moms in minivans driving like maniacs! Maybe it’s just a MO thing. All I know is now I fear the minivan…

  7. MalcoveMagnesia says:

    When I was studying for the drivers test in California, the handbook stresses that driving is a privilege, not a right.

    Distracted driving is a predictable way to get into an accident. Handset usage on the road should be banned, period.

  8. Beerad says:

    This just seems like an attempt to fix a problem while avoiding having the backlash that actually fixing it would create.

    The problem isn’t kids driving while talking on cellphones, it’s DRIVERS driving while talking on cellphones. But presumably everyone would be up in arms if you tried to restrict their precious, precious ability to yak away and endanger everyone else on the road, so just stick it to the kids and pretend that will help things. Hooray for government!

    Driving and cell phones don’t mix. For anyone, regardless of age.

  9. CapitalC says:

    What a pussy punishment.

    It’s been found that talking on the cellphone while driving is the equivalent of driving drunk. Why not just ban everyone from doing it? It’s obviously not just teens having “accidents” while on the phone.

    Make it a revocation of their license plus a $1000 fine – roadside suspension. Punish the drivers just as a drunk driver would be.

  10. venterminator says:

    This will solve the problem of keeping the hands on the wheel, but if it were me, I’d use my allowance on Blue Tooth and no one will ever see you on the phone in the car. Same distraction. The law is useless.

  11. valthun says:

    Actually the adult rule in California will be requiring hands free sets. But will not become enforcible until next year I believe. The other problem is that unless they actually do something stupid and the officer observes actual phone use during the other infraction he can’t stop the kid. That needs to occur or this law will be all but unenforcible.

  12. Trai_Dep says:

    Should apply at LEAST to people over 60, since they’re easily as bad of drivers as the retainer-wearing set is.

    If Arnold had real balls, he’d make it apply to anyone. Of course, bullying kids that don’t vote is SO much easier…

  13. People drive bad enough in California as it is (and take that from a guy who spent 2 years living in Los Angeles and was born in the Bay Area). Watching people make right turns out of the left lane around Metro Rapid buses barreling down the right lane at 40-50mph on Crenshaw while your on it can be pretty damn scary. Not that this will make a difference, but it’ll make me alot more comfortable.

  14. spinachdip says:

    Banning cell phone handset use but still allowing hands-free use is like banning drinking beer from a bottle while driving but still allowing the use of beer helmets.

  15. allthatsevil says:

    It’s a good start, but $20-$50? Most kids’ mommy and daddy will pay that without blinking. The point of a fine is to make it enough to hurt – enough so they won’t likely do it again. It would be more effective if they started at at least a couple hundred.

    @blue_duck: It’s not just a MO thing. Houston drivers are pretty crazy, but I always avoid mini-vans (the only thing I hate more than mini-vans is mini-van drivers) and Lexus drivers. Sorry all you Lexus drivers out there, but I haven’t come across a single one that doesn’t drive like an asshole.

  16. enm4r says:

    @Beerad: The problem isn’t kids driving while talking on cellphones, it’s DRIVERS driving while talking on cellphones.

    Bolded for truth.

    I’m the first one to admit, I talk on the phone in my car when I would otherwise be inconvenienced. From time to time, especially on cross country trips, which I do often, the phone can actually refocus/aid in my driving.

    But living in Chicago, and really anywhere, I would not talk on the phone for short trips. The law is handsfree here, but even that doesn’t curb the distraction. The problem is one of mental ability, not of physically having the phone to your ear.

  17. SkyeBlue says:

    I’ve been almost hit 2 times recently, and it wasn’t by KIDS driving while talking on cellphones, it was by adults older than me! Both times it was while I was stopped at a stop sign and they were making right turns on the street I was on, they take the turn too wide while trying to steer and talk on their phones at the same time!

    What I REALLY love to see though is people who are smoking at the same time they are driving AND talking on their cellphones! What the heck is wrong with people and WHAT is so important to talk about that you have to have a cellphone stuck to your ear 24/7?

    Do they think people are going to somehow forget about them if they are not available constantly?

  18. Buran says:

    I don’t think this has anything to do with “you don’t vote, so we’ll take your rights away” (that would be things like charging cash users, e.g. mostly non-locals, double on toll roads in the Chicago area) — it has everything to do with lots of proof being out there that people who talk on cell phones are a danger to others, and people who have less experience are a danger to others, and those who are in both categories are the most dangerous.

    If you need to talk on the damn phone while you drive, use a headset or better yet drive a car with Bluetooth connectivity so you don’t have to have something stuffed in your ear as you drive. You are not a hearing aid user who needs the hearing aid to hear properly — that headset is decreasing your ability to perceive what’s going on around you.

  19. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Officials said traffic officers will not be allowed to pull drivers over simply because of a cell phone infraction, and violations will not count as part of the traffic safety point system.

    Basically, this means this law won’t be enforced at all. Teens will simply text with the phone out of sight in their lap. Or they can just tint their windows. And even if they do get caught, there’s no incentive for them to correct their behavior. It’s just a measly fine that’s probably less than what they spend for lunch, and no points on their driving record. It’s barely even a slap on the wrists.

    Arnold must be on a “think of the children” crusade. Apparently, he’s fighting read hard (and wasting tax payer dollars) to pass a law that bans the sale of violent videogames to minors.

  20. backbroken says:

    Another worthless law that nobody will follow, nobody will enforce, but the legislation can brag about in their next campaign.

    Reckless and/or distracted driving is already against the law. Let’s enforce the laws we have instead of creating new ones.

  21. Buran says:

    @enm4r: While that is true, I think it should be pointed out that actually holding the phone does create a greater problem because you need two hands free to safely operate a vehicle. We have “two hands on the wheel except when you’re shifting” laws and/or rules-of-thumb for good reason, and it’s a lot of why cars with manumatic/DSG (manual trans with an auto clutch, no pedal) transmissions often have paddle shifters mounted on the wheel — the driver doesn’t have to take his/her hands off the wheel even to shift. While the option of using the shift lever on the center console is usually there (it is in my VW GTI), the message of “keep those hands on the wheel, it’s safer” is clear.

  22. Buran says:

    @spinachdip: Not necessarily; see my other post about keeping hands on wheel.

  23. Buran says:

    @backbroken: Problem is that in many states there are specific requirements for the charge of “reckless driving” – California DUI Laws – Dry Reckless describes California’s law and it’s pretty openly worded, but in some states you see things like (x) over posted limit, (y) improper lane changes within time period (z), tailgating a certain number of times, etc., and if states with specific reckless-driving laws like that want to use them to charge people who drive while distracted by a cell phone, they have to add a law specifically banning that. Depends on the state though.

  24. Buran says:

    @LatherRinseRepeat: Making something illegal can, however, make people think twice about doing something even if it isn’t a primary offense (something a cop can pull you over for even if you didn’t do anything else wrong). Here in Missouri, we do not have a primary seat belt law and yet wearing seat belts is a very important thing to do and the message is very clear that you shouldn’t skip putting it on because of the danger posed when you don’t. Belt usage is up somewhere north of 80% these days as of earlier this year (someone did a random survey) but I don’t remember the exact number.

    I do think there is potential in “hey, the state went to the trouble of deciding that it’s against the law to do this, so maybe there’s really something behind it, so I probably shouldn’t do it even though I’m not likely to be punished” laws.

  25. coraspartan says:

    I think this law is great. In fact, when my son starts driving in two years, I will be threatening his life if I find out he is driving while talking on his cell phone. Teenagers are bad enough drivers without cell phones. They don’t need an additional distraction.

  26. danger the pirate says:

    ah, yes. the nanny state strikes again.
    [www.azlyrics.com]
    i <3 the presidents…

  27. spinachdip says:

    @Buran: You’re ignoring a crapload of studies done on the effect of dialing and driving, and researchers are generally in agreement that hands free dialing doesn’t make things appreciably safer.

    The problem with dialing and driving has less to do with one hand being occupied (though that certainly adds to the problem, just as eating and driving, or make-up and driving does) than with the amount of your attention a phone conversation requires.

    Since talking on the phone while driving, with or without an ear piece, has been shown to be as dangerous as driving drunk, then it would stand that allowing hands-free set would be akin to allowing drinking as long as it was done through a beer helmet, no? It’s a superficial solution that doesn’t deal with the real problem.

  28. spinachdip says:

    @danger_the_pirate: If you’re going to throw out meaningless catchphrases, can you at least use them correctly? “Nanny state” refers to state actions that protect citizens from their own stupidity. This protects citizens from stupidity of other citizens.

    Please come up with a more appropriate meaningless catchprase. Thanks!

  29. SkyeBlue says:

    Many times I have seen the cops here in this little town I live on talking on cellphones while they are on duty and driving. Who gets to pull them over and ticket them?

  30. mac-phisto says:

    does this really solve anything? ct has had a no hands-on cellphone law in place for 2 years now – i still almost get hit by mrs. jones swerving around in her lincoln navigator with one hand on her phone at least twice/day.

    we have a serious problem with teens dying in car crashes & taking their friends with them (hey mommy & daddy – important prevention advice: porsches aren’t for teens). last year, they passed a law that states a driver under 18 cannot have any passengers under 22. a carload of teens just died down the road from my house a week ago.

    wake up, parents. laws do not protect your kids. you do. do your freakin job.

  31. Trai_Dep says:

    @Buran: “I don’t think this has anything to do with “you don’t vote, so we’ll take your rights away”

    Then Arnie wouldn’t be bullying kids. But he is. And no one else. Particularly older drivers, who’s skills (on average) suck eggs. But who vote like cyborg automatrons.

  32. Lordstrom says:

    How about we ban minors from driving? Can anyone tell me with a straight face why minors should drive?

  33. Buran says:

    @spinachdip: I wasn’t trying to say that even handsfree doesn’t cause a problem — rather that holding something in your hand while driving is a danger too aside from the distraction part.

  34. Buran says:

    @trai_dep: Yes, older people who talk on the phone can be a problem too. I know they can. I’ve nearly been hit by them before. But fact is teens don’t have the experience that older drivers do and teens also gab on the phone nearly constantly, less than older people do, and tend to think they’re invincible, something that decreases with age. They’re the worst offenders, and it’s pretty appropriate that they get targeted first.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do want to see driving while yakking banned entirely on a national basis.

  35. Buran says:

    e@Buran: er, MORE than older people do. Why isn’t “edit comment” among the new functions … ? sigh.

  36. cedarpointfan says:

    @lorddave: Minors should drive because they have school to attend. When the buses and backpacks get full, they require an alternative transportation. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find it fun lugging around thirty, yes thirty pounds of books and paper. This isn’t the good ole’ days anymore. Johnny has alot more homework and much thicker books than 30-40 years ago.

    Also, sorry, but packing three to a bus just isn’t logical when contagious diseases, bullies and lack of personal space run rampant.

  37. CurbRunner says:

    I was rear-ended by a 30s-something woman in an SUV as I sat waiting at a red light.

    She was on her cell phone when she hit me and then kept yakking on the phone for at least three minutes after the collision.

    I had to go back and pound on her window to get her to hang it up and start talking to me about what she had just done to my car.

  38. UpsetPanda says:

    Is it really about the cell phone? Hands-free sets are reasonable, but what if it’s the conversation and the focus it requires to have that conversation that makes it a hazard on the roads?

  39. Lordstrom says:

    @cedarpointfan: Therefore we should put the lives of other drivers at risk, just so Johnny isn’t inconvenienced. No dice.

    I will say this though, the notion of homework is appalling. Absolutely appalling. The amount of homework a teacher gives out is a good indicator of how lazy and irresponsible she is. But that’s a different topic for another day.

  40. Beerad says:

    @cedarpointfan: Ummm, because they need to learn sometime? I mean, I guess you can transfer a whole lot of accidents from the 16-to-18 crowd to the 18-to-20 crowd of brand-new drivers, but the point of that would be what?

    On an unrelated note, I’m originally from Ohio and I totally love Cedar Point.

    @mac-phisto: “they passed a law that states a driver under 18 cannot have any passengers under 22.” Can you please cite to a source for this? Because it sounds completely crazy and untrue.

  41. Beerad says:

    @Beerad: Errr, sorry — that first comment was actually responding to Lorddave, but I’m sure everyone figured that out.

  42. spinachdip says:

    @MissJ: I’m not getting your comment. Is this one of those “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” things?
    It *is* about the conversation and not the cell phone. There’s no law stopping a driver from having a cell phone while operating a car. There are, however, laws with varying degrees of strictness and scope about talking on the phone.

    @Beerad: The fact that they’re beginner drivers doesn’t matter as much as the fact that they’re frickin’ teenagers. I know that when I was 16, I gave lip service to safety and passed the DMV tests with flying colors, but I was stupid, short-sighted and wrapped in an illusion of invincibility. 2 years later, I was considerably more mature, even if still childish. I don’t think I”m all that atypical.

    Kids mature a lot between their teens and their early 20s, and it makes sense to believe that a beginner driver at 20, or even 18, is better prepared to handle the responsibilities of driving than the same driver at 16.

    That said, the state of public transportation being what it is in this country, it’s unreasonable to raise the driving age. But I think it is reasonable to set restrictions, i.e. limits on hours and underaged pasengers.

  43. spinachdip says:

    BTW, it would be nice if driving records of minors were tied to their parents’. If your kid totals the BMW, the points should go on your insurance and license too. If your kid gets drunk, flips the SUV and kills a couple of his buddies, you should stand trial for vehicular manslaughter too.

    People who give keys to $25,000 potential killing machine to inexperienced drivers should take the responsibility as enablers.

  44. mac-phisto says:

    @Beerad: i misstated the law a bit. the actual restriction info can be found here. the restriction is only for 6 months after obtaining a license (i thought it was until you hit 18). turns out we already don’t allow 16 & 17 yr olds to use cellphones (even handsfree) while driving. ha! ha! cali, beat you yet again.

    @spinachdip: i know states have tried to enact parental prosecution laws – don’t know if any have been successful, but even absent of that, there’s always civil liability. somehow today’s kids seem to have lost the message that a little screwing around on the road can result in mommy & daddy losing their homes, their jobs – everything.

    bah! maybe i’m just getting old. i remember getting pulled over by a police captain who i was inadvertently racing @ ~100mph (it was dark; i couldn’t tell it was a cruiser). i thought my dad was gonna split my head open. turns out he just laughed & made a comment about apples & trees. i earned a couple of backhands from mom over that one though.