New law targets teens and texting

FRESNO, Calif.

Sam Dhaliwal has been a driving instructor in the North Valley for 17 years. He says one of the hardest things to teach teenagers is to ignore their phones while on the road.

Dhaliwal said, "They need to be fully aware of what's happening around them and they need to pay full attention to the driving."

The U.S. Department of Transportation says 11 percent of the drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal accidents were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. That's higher than any other age group.

"I've seen a lot of teenagers getting into accidents, just texting, losing your life over it," said Dhaliwal. "It's not worth it."

It's already illegal for drivers under 18 to talk on cell phones behind the wheel, even if they're hands free. But starting January first, a new state law makes it illegal to use any type of electronic wireless communication device, including hands free texting technology.

It's a way to include newer voice activated systems, such as Siri and Bluetooth built into steering columns. Merced Police Captain Tom Trindad says anything that diverts attention away from the road can be dangerous.

Capt. Tom trindad explained, "You have to be able to react to anything that comes your way. Someone loses control of their car or they don't see the stop sign because they're not paying attention. You have to be able to react to it, and you can avoid the accident."

Teenagers we spoke with say they may not like the law, but they understand the need for it.

Jake Vera said, "I was in a fender bender myself not too long ago because a friend of mine was looking at his phone an didn't see the car in front of him stop. So it causes accidents, so it's a decent law."

The first violation of the law will cost you a $20.00 fine, and each offense after that is $50.00.

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