<em>Patt Morrison</em> is known for its innovative discussions of local politics and culture, as well as its presentation of the effects of national and world news on Southern California.
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You insist on texting and talking while driving – would higher penalties make you stop?

Cars drive by a sign notifying of a new texting while driving law.
Cars drive by a sign notifying of a new texting while driving law.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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We’ve all done it—a quick glance down at your Blackberry or iPhone while you’re stopped at a red light or crawling along in traffic, a text comes in from a friend that only needs a fast reply. You give a quick glance around to see if there are any cops in sight, and as you move forward on the road you type out a text message. Sure, you just broke the law, but if no one catches you and you managed to not smash into the car in front of you, no harm, no foul…right? Texting while driving has been illegal for three years but surveys and anecdotal evidence seem to indicate that drivers are still texting away as if it were perfectly legal. The fines for getting caught the first time used to be just $20, but on Monday the State Senate voted to jack up the price significantly in the hopes of creating a stronger deterrent. If you’re caught, the costs to you could be going up to more than $300 for your first offense. We’ve all been guilty of it at least once, but if you were facing much stiffer fines, would you think twice before texting in the drivers seat?


Russ Rader, spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

State Senator Joe Simitian (D – Palo Alto), who sponsored the bill to raise the base fines on talking or texting on hand-held devices while driving