McConnors corner
Get Off the Phone
By Sean McConnor
Jun 8, 2008 - 1:37:11 PM

Don't deny it. It has happened to everyone who has walked the sidewalks or driven in California: some driver is preoccupied with driving and almost runs you down. In my case, she hit me, (but not seriously, if you call being hit by a Mercedes not serious), while crossing a crosswalk. (She was reported to the police.)

Come July 1, the game is over for the "motor mouths" that use cell phones while driving in California. The California Wireless Telephone Safety Act of 2006 takes effect and, for a pedestrian-driver such as myself, thank goodness.

The law says that anyone 18 years or older must use a hands-free cell phone or be cited by the authorities. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule because our legislators, and most of us, realize the value of cell phones in a crisis.  For example, if you must notify the police, the fire department, or you are having a health problem, you can use your handy cell while driving.

As for the under 18 crowd, they are prohibited from using cell phones, laptops, pagers and mobile radios while driving. The under 18 people are statistically proven to be most likely to have an accident; subsequently, the law will be more strict.

One good note for passengers: the law on prohibition of use in a car while driving does not apply to you, so you won't be faced with the penalties that the drivers will face, which are a $20 ticket and court costs the first time you are caught and a $50 fine the second time and court costs from then on out. The ticket will appear on your DMV record but will not count as a point.

Well, we all knew it was bound to occur. Making a quick call to tell a spouse or friend where you are and your time of arrival was always fine with a cell phone, but, then, things got crazy.  People were using the long Southern California drives and breaking the boredom by engaging in long conversations to the exclusion of everyone and everything else.

Well, ladies and gents, time to zip your mouth or you are going to run into the Bevery Hills Police, for example, who among others, say they will aggressively enforce the new law. Don't say you weren't warned.

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