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Teen 'driving while communicating' faces ban

Original post made on Aug 28, 2007

Drivers under 18 could face fines for using cell phones, pagers or text-messaging devices -- even hands-free -- while behind the wheel, under a proposed law making its way through the state legislature, state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, announced Monday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 28, 2007, 1:23 AM

Comments (20)

Posted by Sensibile
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 28, 2007 at 6:00 am

Why only teens? Nobody should be texting while driving. I hope this is only the first step towards a more comprehensive ban.

Posted by Otto
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 28, 2007 at 4:16 pm

Raise the legal driving age to 21; there are too many reckless teen drivers on the road. Everything we know about how teens cognate consequence (from brain science) should lead us to altering the current law.

1) Mandatory bi0annual testing for all seniors over 65, and yearly testing for all seniors over 75.

2) More difficult driving tests: most aren't aware that things like three-point-turns and parallel parking are not required during the driver's test. Why?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2007 at 4:26 pm


Hear Hear

Apart from the fact that Americans are allowed to drive at 16, most Americans do not realise how difficult European driving tests are. If the average American driver took a European test, I doubt very much that they would pass. A British test, if taken in an automatic gear change car, would give you a licence for that type of car only. It is unlikely that an American can drive a stick shift, but if they go to Europe, they would be hard pressed to find an automatic to rent.

Americans should really learn to drive at the earliest 18, and that is just learning. Don't let them get behind the wheel until they are well able to understand the responsibility that is required of the privilege.

Posted by Umm....
a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2007 at 10:21 pm

I partially agree with both of you. A lot of americans can't drive, but not all americans are stick-shift-impared. I was taught that it's imperative to be able to drive both an automatic and a stick.

Otto: not all teens are "reckless drivers." I see a TON of adult drivers driving worse than teens. I feel discriminated that I'm getting pulled over because of a broken taillight, yet I see too many adult drivers not getting pulled over for the more basics, running red lights, not signaling, etc. They are the ones that should get tested again.

I get very upset when some teens ruin it for everybody, and now the community sees all teens as bad drivers. Don't try to contest it.

Posted by Otto
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 29, 2007 at 8:37 am

"Umm", The statistics for young drivers say it all.

look at the bar chart
Web Link

Web Link

Yes, many - maybe most - teens are safe drivers, but the very high toll paid by the rest ofo us for putting teens behind the wheel is far too high.

Last, we need to encourage the introduction of in car cameras and speed monitoring for teens. That way, reckless driving - especially speeding and other dangeroud behavior - will not go unnoticed, or unpunished.

As far as dangerous adult drivers go, we should be FAR more punitive with DUIm and maintain iinternal speed monitoring for adults, as well - in addition to the placement of street cameras to monitor behavior on the road.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2007 at 9:01 am

Teen drivers can be very safe drivers. They are also very inexperienced. It is too easy in this country to get a licence and start driving at 16. In fact, many teens and parents look on this as a rite of passage.

Driving is taken as a given for a teen in this country. In other countries, even though the age may be 17 or 18, the majority of teens don't bother getting a licence until they really need it. The main reasons being the cost of doing so and the fact that learning to drive takes too much time away from studying for school and college exams.

Even good drivers, teens and adults, can sometimes do something stupid and have a serious accident. We have had one case of this during the past summer where the teen died and seriously injured her brother.

Driving standards need to be upgraded. The test needs to be stricter and the consequences of bad driving need to be administered strongly.

Posted by Richard
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2007 at 9:19 am

It is fine to express all these sentiments and yak on and on about what we should be doing, but posting on the Town Square doesn't accomplish anything. What can we do to get REAL changes implemented? Most legislators totally cave when it comes to this subject, fearing a huge voter backlash. Lobbyists from CSAA and trucking companies also fight anything that might increase driver penalties. Simitian has had a very hard time getting his very minor cell phone restrictions approved.

Posted by One note lawmaker
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 29, 2007 at 9:27 am

Simitian needs to get over his cell-phone fixation and start working on real problems facing this area. Bravo to the CSAA and trucking companies for standing up to this wannabe bully.

Posted by CarlyS
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 29, 2007 at 11:21 am

Teen Driving statistics are staggering. Most states have enacted better graduated teen driving laws which have had a positive impact. But statistics show that inexperience is still one of largest causes in new driver crashes. I recently saw this article on the Weary Parent site talking about Europe's driving rules and thought it was worth sharing. It is a possible simple solution to help experienced drivers be aware that a new driver is behind the wheel.

Rookie Driver - Keeping New Drivers Safe

One of the best ways to help keep new teen drivers safe is by giving them a way to be identified as new drivers by others on the road. It has been a long standing tradition in Europe to identify cars being driven by “Learners” with a very easy to identify “L” sticker. By alerting other drivers on the road of the new drivers, experienced drivers can give them more room, be more cautious and a little more understanding when minor courtesy mistakes are made.

Rookie Driver.Net is bringing the awareness to the US, using a fun, teen accepted, car magnet that says Rookie Driver. Afterall, being “Rookie of the Year” is cool in sports, and to teens Rookie Driver is more acceptable than Student Driver or other terms.

The Rookie Driver web site also includes an entire page of teen driving safety links and a great blog full of safety tips. Definitely worth a look if you have a rookie driver or one who is soon to be.

I just returned from a trip to Baltimore MD and saw dozens of these Rookie Driver magnets---I thought it was great knowing there was a novice made me more cautious. As an experienced driver, I'm all for being alerted of a new driver, in an effort create safer travel for all.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2007 at 12:11 pm


Great idea. I actually entered Joe Simitian's "There oughta be a law" competition with a very similar idea. Unfortunately, I did not win. Maybe I will try again next time.

Posted by Sir Bett Hoven, the 9th
a resident of another community
on Aug 29, 2007 at 1:00 pm

one note, watch your rear when backing up.

Posted by Why just teens?
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2007 at 2:44 pm

Why not adults too? Adults aren't the only ones having accidents.

Posted by Why just teens?
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2007 at 2:44 pm

Edit: Teens aren't the only ones having accidents.

Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 31, 2007 at 3:55 pm

It probably would have made sense to make it be any new drivers, and apply this to the first 2 years of any driver, any age, but the bulk of new drivers are teens, and it is easier to pass the legislation worded this way.

Posted by Vanessa
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 2, 2007 at 5:26 pm

I am a teenager and I agree that we should not get our licenses until 18. Many people are opposed to this, but teenager's brains are less developed, and that is partially a cause of why teenagers get into so many more accidents. The leading cause of death for teenagers is driving accidents. I am in the process of learning how to drive, yet I feel that it is imperative that we be issued learner's permits for a minimum of a year in order to gain a greater experience. I wrote a paper for my school stating that the degree of driver's education should be increased significantly in order to reduce unnecesary deaths. We all hear tragic stories of teenagers dying in car crashes, or of them killing innocent people. I think it is so incredibly sad. Yet, this is because the driving education process in the US is not strict enough. While writing my paper, I researched another country's driving education process and decided to use England as my comparative country. Their driving process is much more difficult and requires more knowledge of how to maneuver a car, and how to do so safely. They must go through more tests than we do, including a practical test, a theory test, and then their behind the wheel test. In addition, their behind the wheel training is better than the systems in the US. To begin with, some states in the US allow 14 year olds to begin driving. This age is WAY too young to begin driving. Realistically, 14 year olds are not capable of handing the enormous responsibility of driving. By allowing them to be in control of a car, we are ultimately allowing them to be responsible for another person's life.
At least in California, only 6 hours of behing the wheel training is required in order for a permit to be valid. More hours should be required, for there are parents who are not responsible drivers and then their habits rub off on their children's driving habits. Of course there are parents who teach their children excellently and are good role models, but for the percentage of parents who are bad drivers, something needs to be done. As a result, a certified driving instructor should be the person who teaches the teenager the correct way, and SAFE way to drive.
This is a subject I feel very strongly about, and I honestly believe that something needs to be done about the driving age, or at least about the difficulty and rigorosity of driving education. Safe roads are important for all of us who care about living. Though driver's education may be costly, and teenagers may be mad about not being able to drive at 16, it is far more important to have a living teenager, or anybody else, than a dead one.

I sincerely hope something changes.

Posted by Ryan
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 6, 2007 at 10:21 pm

I am 17 years old, and I am a licensed driver. There are several laws that already restrict teenage drivers, such as being unable to transport passengers under the age of 20 until a year after obtaining a license, or not being able to operate a vehicle between the hours of 11 PM and 5 AM. Some of these laws may be news to many of you, and I feel that it is unfair that Simitian is targeting just teenagers on this proposed law. Simitian's previous cell phone and driving law (not being able to talk on a cell phone while driving) applied to everyone on the road. Why is Simitian only targeting teens? Many adults use text messaging and check their pagers (most teens don't have pagers anyway), and therefore are just as likely to cause an accident. There are many reckless teenage drivers, but at the same time there are many reckless adult drivers. If people just focused on driving (and obeying traffic laws), we would have much safer roads. But these laws continue to confuse me, because I find that it would be incredibly difficult to enforce these laws, so why does Simitian waste his time trying to pass these kinds of laws? He could be much more effective, by attempting to fix the driving education system in California. I think we can all agree that this proposed law is somewhat ridiculous, not because of the idea, but because of the difficulty of enforcing it. I also think that lawmakers need to stop targeting teens with these kinds of laws, when it really applies to all drivers.

Posted by another teenager
a resident of another community
on Oct 22, 2007 at 6:58 am

I hate the idea of having to raise the driving age as do many adults. I am from Kansas. There are many farmers that have kids. Around here in little towns, there just isnt anyone that wants to be a farm hand anymore. Meaning that the kids are the only ones left to help. I guess we could help but that would be breaking the law. Not only is it hard on the rural area, but the urban too! The parents dont want to taxi their kids around everywhere. You never know, it might help the deaths in 16 year-olds, but what if it turns out to be 17 year-olds next, then what are you gonna do? I don't think some people realize how much more stress this driving age thing is going to put on the adults shoulders. Just leave the law as is.

Posted by another teenager
a resident of another community
on Oct 22, 2007 at 1:20 pm

I think what they mean bby breaking the law is that in order to help, they have to drive. Meaning they would break the law!

Posted by Helen Of kansas
a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2008 at 12:53 pm

All in all they are taking our rights one by one no and if or buts... its not right they are taking away what our forfathers fought for ... they are taking away what history made

Posted by auntie em
a resident of another community
on Mar 3, 2008 at 5:24 pm

the right to be a dangerous nusance on the road

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