Last week, we brought you word of New York state’s recent approval of a bill that would make distracted driving laws affecting younger drivers far more stringent than they used to be. Now, a new editorial from the staff of the Bakersfield Californian is attempting to get citizens on this coast on board with similar legislation.
The worry is that laws haven’t changed enough to reflect the shifting paradigm of the roads. Texting and driving is increasingly thought to be as hazardous as drunk driving, and yet the editorial claims that distracted driving laws aren’t nearly as strict as those statutes which pertain to intoxication at the wheel.
Whereas drivers younger than 21 face a license suspension until that age if they’re caught being drunk at the wheel, texting offenses are the same across the board no matter the age of the driver: a $20 fine which rises to $159 once costs are taken into account.
There are a couple of solutions. California could take a page out of Alaska’s book and get incredibly tough on distracted drivers. In that state, a first offense might end up costing an individual a whopping $1,000 if they’re caught texting. Or, California could start assessing points to a driver’s license, a situation that could leave to a suspension and heightened insurance premiums.