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Cars drive by a sign notifying of 2009's new texting while driving law on Interstate 280 in San Francisco, California.
Drivers still do it, but texting while driving has been illegal in California for more than three years. Now, Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law that will make it legal – as long as you don’t touch your phone.
Many mobile devices have speech recognition technology, such as the Siri feature on the iPhone, which allow people to send and receive text messages by dictation. This still requires some handling of the phone. But if your car features totally hands free technology, you will be within your legal rights to text while driving, starting January 1. The new law leaves some questions as to which devices will be legal. And some safety officials argue that texting while driving, by any method, makes the roads more dangerous.
Is Apple's voice-activated Siri command OK? Is it legal to look up and dial contacts on our mobile phones? If so, shouldn’t we be allowed to press one button to activate Siri while driving? How would police know the difference? Do enough cars have hands free technology now or is the technology not really there yet?
Curt Augustine, Director of Policy and Government Affairs, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers; the Alliance sponsored AB 1536