Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the law this week. It followed the law this year limiting cellphone use while driving to only hands-free devices, but some critics complained that it did not prohibit text messaging.
Senate Bill 28 imposes a fine of $20 for the first text-messaging violation and $50 for subsequent violations. Drivers won’t get a point on their driving record, though. And there are exceptions for emergency workers.
Drivers 17 and younger are still prohibited from using any sort of cellphone, hands-free or not.
Banning texting did not take exceptional political courage, Assemblyman Paul Krekorian said, adding that it was a “common sense measure.”
Texting is more dangerous because it diverts a driver’s eyes off the road to read text messages on a cellphone, he said.
“A ban on texting is more important than a ban on the use of cellphones to talk,” he said.
He hopes the ban reminds motorists that they are “taking people’s lives in their hands” when operating a vehicle.
The texting-while-driving ban won’t significantly change the way officers police the streets, Glendale police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.
As always, officers pull motorists over when they’re driving erratically whether it’s because of text messaging or not, Lorenz said.
It’s difficult to say how many traffic collisions could be blamed on text messaging, Lorenz said. Officers in the past would have put it in the category of driving at an “unsafe speed,” he added.
With the new ban, officers can cite drivers specifically for texting while driving, he said.
Angela Resendi, 32, an Arleta resident who works in Glendale, thinks the new law is reasonable.
“You should be focusing on your driving,” Resendi said.
Jackie McRae, 61, a Los Angeles resident who works in Glendale, says motorists who text while driving are dangerous.
“They need to pay attention to the road,” she said.
For McRae, who works at an insurance company, the texting ban is long overdue.
“It’s a no-brainer,” she said.
VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 67-3232 or by e-mail at veronica.rocha@ latimes.com.