Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a new law Thursday that beginning in July 2008 will make it illegal for 16- and 17-year-olds to drive while talking on their cell phone or text messaging.
Schwarzenegger said the law is necessary because statistics show a link between distractions and accidents among teenage drivers.
"The simple fact is that teen drivers are more easily distracted," Schwarzenegger said. "The majority of accidents with teen drivers is because they're distracted."
Simitian echoed Schwarzenegger saying that the two years between ages 16 and 18 are especially dangerous driving years.
"The crash rates for 16-year-olds are five times greater than they are for their 18-year-old friends," Simitian said.
Schwarzenegger has two teenage daughters and both of them have been warned by their governor father that they will lose both their cell phone and driving privileges even now if they are ever caught on the phone or text messaging while driving.
"Both of them will be gone. The car will be gone for a long time and the phone will also be gone for a long time," Schwarzenegger said.
Sequoia High School student body president Ally Colin, a 17-year-old senior, said she has been guilty of talking on her cell phone while driving in the past.
"Real quick, but now I won't," Colin said.
The law takes effect on July 1, 2008, the same time as another new law written by Simitian and previously signed by Schwarzenegger that makes it illegal for adults to talk on a cell phone while driving unless they use a "hands-free" device.
"Starting in July if you're 18 or over it's hands free but if you're under 18, hands off. That'll be the law," Simitian said.
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