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<nettime> Terminator Bans SMS on LA Highways
Naeem Mohaiemen on Thu, 25 Sep 2008 21:38:59 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Terminator Bans SMS on LA Highways

Ahhhnuuuld!!!  :-)

Schwarzenegger outlaws text-messaging while driving
By Nancy Vogel and Michael Rothfeld
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

September 25, 2008

SACRAMENTO — California drivers chafing at the ban on holding
cellphones can soon forget about texting, too: Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger has banned motorists from sending, writing or reading
messages on electronic devices starting Jan. 1.

Schwarzenegger signed legislation Wednesday that imposes a $20 fine
for a first offense of texting while driving and a $50 fine for any
subsequent violation.

As he works against a Tuesday deadline to act on more than 800 bills
passed by the Legislature, Schwarzenegger also signed a measure
barring companies that do business with the Sudanese government from
bidding on state contracts.

Schwarzenegger said in a statement that he was "happy to sign" the
prohibition against text-messaging, which surveys show is widespread
among drivers.

"Banning electronic text messaging while driving will keep drivers'
hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, making our roadways a
safer place for all Californians," said Schwarzenegger.

The California Public Utilities Commission recently banned certain
railroad workers from using text-messaging devices or cellphones on
moving trains in the wake of the Sept. 12 collision between a
Metrolink passenger train and a freight train. Investigators are
probing whether texting by an engineer was a factor in the crash in
Chatsworth, which killed 25 people and injured 135.

Insurers, bicyclists and cellphone companies backed the measure that
Schwarzenegger signed Wednesday, as they did the ban on holding a
cellphone while driving, which took effect July 1. The earlier law
allows drivers to use cellphones only with hands-free devices such as
headsets; another law prohibits drivers younger than 18 from using any
kind of phone or texting device while behind the wheel.

"When somebody's distracted," said state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo
Alto), who wrote the new law, SB 28, and the earlier laws, "it puts
not just the driver at risk but everybody else in the car and
everybody else on the highway."

Tom Marshall, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol, said
state officers have issued 19,753 citations to motorists for talking
on cellphones without a hands-free device since July 1. The number
does not include citations by local police departments.

Marshall said the number of drivers cited for that infraction is far
less than those stopped for speeding, but still significant.

"Why everybody isn't hands-free now, I have no idea," he said.
Consistent with state actions in favor of human rights that began in
the 1980s, Schwarzenegger also signed a bill banning state contract
bids from companies that do business with the government of the
African nation of Sudan.

That nation has been widely condemned for conducting a genocidal
campaign against people living in its Darfur region. The conflict has
killed an estimated 400,000 people and displaced more than 2.5
million, the governor said.

In signing AB 498 by Assemblyman Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina),
Schwarzenegger said, "We are continuing to send a message that
California will not condone nor enable economic gain at the expense of
innocent people."

It is not clear how many companies might be affected by the law.

Schwarzenegger also signed a bill sought by the Los Angeles Unified
School District to allow it to continue tapping state construction
funds even as it withdraws from a program to fund multitrack,
year-round schools.

The $90 million remaining in the multitrack program will be shifted
over five years to charter schools serving low-income children under
SB 658 by Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles).

Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill last year because it did not
shift the money to charter schools, which are public schools freed
from some restrictions imposed by state education laws and local
school districts.

L.A. Unified director of governmental affairs Santiago Jackson said
the district is working to put all of its schools on a two-semester
schedule, rather than a multitrack, year-round schedule in which four
separate groups of students use the same school with staggered start

nancy.vogel {AT} latimes.com

michael.rothfeld {AT} latimes.com

Times staff writer Marc Lifsher contributed to this report.

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