Citing statistics that teens are four times more likely to be involved in accidents while driving as they use a cellphone or other electronic device, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed into law an outright ban on teens using mobile technology while driving.
California joins the list of fifteen other states and the District of Columbia who have passed similar bans. But teens aren’t alone in their plight, as California’s TeenTech ban takes effect July 1, 2008 – the same day non-hands-free mobile-use while driving takes effect for all drivers. But what it does mean is that 16 and 17 year old motorists are not allowed to drive while operating a mobile phone, pager, laptop, or handheld computer. Radio reports also include MP3 players in that list.
Fines begin at twenty dollars ($20) for their first incident, and then increase to fifty dollars ($50) for each recurrent violation. The violations may also be considered moving violations, meaning that they will be subject to a rise in insurance company premiums.
Like the hands free cellphone ban, the law was passed as a response to an alarming trend of accidents due to drivers being distracted while talking on the phone of fidgeting with other technology. But for teens, it can not only be much more common, but much more deadly. Nearly fifteen percent of all fatal accidents are caused by teenagers, and studies show that car crashes are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 16-19.
In a signing statement, Governor Schwarzenegger stated, “The simple fact is that teenage drivers are more easily distracted. We want to eliminate any extra distractions so they can focus on paying attention to the road and being good drivers.”
And then, as if he couldn’t resist, he added, “We just don’t want to say ‘Hasta la vista, baby’ to young drivers anymore.”