Like many laws passed by the legislature in Sacramento, California's ban on texting while driving has been … not so effective. The Automobile Club of Southern California on Wednesday announced that texting by Golden State drivers has nearly doubled since the rule went into effect 19 months ago. Young women (4.3 percent of them text while behind the wheel) were the worst offenders, according to the AAA.
“The rise in texting indicates that the growth of texting overall has outpaced current enforcement efforts and overcome the current law, which should be strengthened to enhance safety,” said Auto Club government affairs manager Steve Finnegan.
The AAA came to its conclusion via its latest roadside survey. It states that about 2.7 percent of drivers finger their smartphones and other mobile devices while driving — a no-no under state law.
At the same time, the Auto Club found that “the level of hand-held cell phone use on the road at seven locations in Southern California has held constant at 3.7 percent,” according to a statement.
(Those devices, however, have often been replaced by more text-friendly smartphones, which might, in our opinion, also explain the increase in texting while driving).
The Auto Club doesn't think the law is to blame. It wants stricter enforcement:
“Stronger penalties, more driver awareness and education, and heightened enforcement are needed to significantly reduce one of the most dangerous activities a driver can do while on the road,” said Finnegan.
The AAA notes that texting while driving only nets a $20 “base fine” for a first offense — if proven — and that a first conviction does not harm one's driving record. On the other hand, we'd have to believe it's difficult to prove texting while driving in court. Who's to say someone wasn't glancing down and pressing a button to pick up a call?
The triple A supports SB 1475, which would toughen up the law and put a point on the driving records of those convicted of LOLing while cruising.
Texting behind the wheel increases the risk of getting into a car crash by at least eight times, the AAA states.