There Oughta Be a Law: California May Ban Texting While Biking

Posted August 31, 2011 in Driving & Motor Vehicles by Arthur Buono

Update: California Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed the amended texting-while-driving/biking bill passed by California lawmakers. The Governor felt the penalties for unlawful cell phone use while driving were already stiff enough to punish and deter this type of distracted driving. The provisions applicable to bicycling went down with the veto too.

Gov. Brown also vetoed a bill which would have required children to wear helmets while skiing or snowboarding at the state’s winter resorts. In doing so he voiced concern over the "inexorable transfer of authority from parents to the state." That’s an interesting comment in a state where local lawmakers have made an issue over the calorie and nutritional content of Happy Meals. Is the pendulum swinging away from the "nanny state?"

Original Post: California lawmakers have approved a bill banning cell phone use while biking. It’s part of an overhaul of the state’s texting-while-driving law. It’s up to Governor Jerry Brown to sign the bill into law.

  • New bill would include bicycles in texting-while-driving ban
  • Cell phone, texting bans seem effective at curbing accidents, deaths
  • Other behaviors also contribute to dangerous, distracted driving
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California May Extend Cell Phone Ban to Bicycles


Three years ago California enacted its law banning cell phone use while driving. This new bill would increase the fines for offenses involving motor vehicles. It would also impose a one-point penalty to a second offender’s insurance record.

Every state and the federal government has a similar law applicable to motor vehicles. They seem to work as intended. In California motor vehicle fatalities fell 20 percent in the year after the law’s passage. Distracted driving accidents caused by cell phone use also fell 40 percent.

The bicycling lobby isn’t opposed to the bill. It would be the nation’s first. Are there other behaviors the law should specifically ban when driving or cycling? Would you like to see a ban on pedestrians yakking on their cell while crossing the street? Or do you think lawmakers are getting too picky now? Let us know.

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