After Every 15 Minutes at CVHS, many students are suddenly aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, but what about the other forms of impairment that may land them in unfortunate accidents? In July of 2008, the state of California restricted drivers from making calls on cell phones. Six months later, another law followed, banning drivers from texting behind the wheel.
Despite the newly enacted laws designed to protect Californians, many drivers continue to use their cell phones while they drive.
“This last April, we had about 60 citations issued for just texting, and 430 for just talking, just in our office,” said Officer Daniel Jacowitz from the California Highway Patrol’s Castro Valley office. During a special enforcement period in April, the agency wrote about ten times as many tickets for cell phone use as usual, but only two of the month’s citations went to those under 18. “The 18 to 25- year-old range made up the majority,” Jacowitz said.
Under the cell phone use law, adults 18 and older may use a hands-free device when using their cell phones, while minors cannot use cell phones at all, not even with a hands-free device, while driving on public roads. Exceptions apply to commercial drivers and emergency calls.
Jacowitz continued to tell about how people these days increasingly lie to law enforcement officers to get out of citations. He said some insist they’re driving to the hospital for emergencies, but Jacowitz cautioned that officers may follow the drivers to make sure.
“Some people say they’re talking to God,” said Jacowitz.
Driving while using a cell phone is an infraction and can be charged a base fine of $20, and $50 for each following violation. However, due to court-imposed administrative fees, the cost of fines is likely much greater than that.
Overall, CVHS students seem to be in agreement with senior Victoria Liang.
“Texting while driving is almost like a person drunk driving because only a portion of the person’s attention is focused on the road,” she said. “Texting can wait!”
“It’s your decision, and if you die from it, well, it’s just natural selection. As for the innocent driver, that’s just a pity,” said senior Kyle Kole.