Get the Message: Don't Text and Drive - NBC Southern California

Get the Message: Don't Text and Drive

Don't read or send either

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    Get the Message: Don't Text and Drive
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    A new study from the American Automobile Association's Foundation for Traffic Safety says talking on cell phones while driving is unsafe, handsfree or otherwise.

    Beginning January 1, 2009, it will be against the law to write, send or  even read a text message while driving in California.

    According to the California Highway Patrol, the law is designed to keep both eyes and minds on the road.

    "I text with one hand," said 19-year old Aine Brown, "so I hardly ever look down at it." The Orange County teen admits she knows others who have been in accidents because they were texting while behind the wheel.

    "We want to force people to keep their eyes in front of them," said CHP officer Devon Boatman.

    In July, motorists were mandated to go hands free. The same law made it illegal for anyone under 18 to text and drive. Statewide, the CHP has written 43,000 tickets since that law went into effect five months ago.  Now adults will also be ticketed if  they're caught .

    Laura Schuck, of Orange, admits she has let go of the wheel to send a text message. "I've almost rear ended people by sending texts. I'm glad they're changing the law."

    Officers say the citation has a base fine of $20, but is usually closer to $100 after all the penalties are added in.