Texting is not allowed while driving – that’s the law in California. But a lot of drivers ignore it. Just sample the folks around you on your way home from work tonight and you will see lots of people holding both the phone and the wheel.
When the law went into effect over a year and a half ago, a lot of people paid attention. But the Automobile Club of Southern California says that’s not the case anymore.
They checked out a sample of 4,000 vehicles in Orange County, and found 2.7 percent of the drivers were texting while driving – that’s about twice as many as when the law went into effect.
That may not sound like a lot, 2.7 percent, but think about this:
Nearly 6,000 people died in car accidents attributed to distracted drivers in 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 515,000 people were injured that same year, also because of distracted drivers.
In California, drivers caught texting are fined $20 for a first offense and no points are added to the driver’s record. "Compared to other moving violations, that’s nothing," Jeff Spring, AAA Spokesperson told NBC4.
Auto Club officials want to see bigger fines and an impact on driving records. A bill that would add some teeth to the texting while driving ban was recently defeated in the Legislature.
One of the things state leaders point to as a problem with the law is the fine drivers get for breaking it.
Right now it is $20. State Senator Joe Simitian wants to double the fines for people who talk and drive and quintuple it for those who text at the wheel.
Simitian wants talking and driving to cost you $50 and texting and driving to cost you $100. Slap on court fees and surcharges and you will be paying close to $200 for the first offense.