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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    

September 24, 2008

For More Information, Contact:

Sarah Mason at (916) 651-4011



SACRAMENTO – State Senator Joe Simitian’s legislation (Senate Bill 28) to prohibit text messaging while driving was signed into law today by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The measure takes effect January 1, 2009.

“Building on legislation already helping save lives in California, I am happy to sign this bill because it further encourages safe and responsible driving,” Schwarzenegger said in a release. “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.”

“I am gratified by the Governor’s action,” said Simitian (D-Palto Alto).  “Texting while driving is so obviously unsafe that it’s hard to believe anyone would attempt it, yet everyday observation suggests there are an awful lot of folks who do,” Simitian said.

SB 28 prohibits motorists from writing, sending or reading a text based communication (text message, email, sms) while driving.  Violators will be assessed a $20 fine for the first offense, and a $50 fine for subsequent offenses, with no violation point on the violator’s driving record.

Survey research indicates that 89 percent of American adults believe that sending text messages or emails while driving is distracting, dangerous, and should be outlawed.  Yet even though the overwhelming majority of adults think the practice is dangerous, 66 percent say they read emails or text messages while driving and 57 percent say they send emails and text messages.  Just this month, Britain’s Transportation and Research Laboratory released its findings that reaction time is delayed 35 percent when drivers are reading or writing messages behind the wheel.

“You’d think common sense would prevail without legislation,” said Simitian.  “Unfortunately, common sense isn’t always that common,” he added.  “When folks tell me they can drive safely while texting, it reminds me of folks who say ‘Don’t worry, I can hold my liquor,’ before they hop in the car.”

SB 28 is similar to laws already on the books in 4 states.  Similar legislation is currently or has been considered in some form in 30 other states.

Simitian is also the author of SB 1613, which requires all California drivers using their cell phones to use a hands-free device and SB 33, which bans the use of “mobile service devices” (e.g., cell phones, pagers, PDAs and text-messaging devices) by drivers under the age of 18.  Both measures took effect July 1 of this year.

For more information on SB 28, visit