New Year, new laws | December 26, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Perspective - December 26, 2008

New Year, new laws

At last our laws are beginning to catch up to our high tech culture. Although using hand-held cell phones while driving has been against the law in California since July, it was obvious that other activities such as text messaging and operating Global Positioning Systems are easily as dangerous if not more so.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2009, it is illegal to write, send or read text messages or e-mail while driving a motor vehicle. This was already the law for drivers under the age of 18 but it is now being expanded to all drivers. We don't understand why an age limit was ever put on this law but perhaps text messaging was seen as a phenomenon limited to the high school age and younger. Even if this had once been the case, teens who began driving and text messaging are older now and probably kept their texting habits. Also, children and parents today keep in touch via text messages. Even for many adults, it seems texting is becoming the communication style of choice.

Another sign of the times legislates the mounting of Global Positioning Systems in cars. This new law allows portable devices to be mounted in a 7-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield on the driver's side of a vehicle or in a 5-inch square in the lower corner of the passenger side. These are the only two legal spots on the windshield where a GPS can be mounted after Jan. 1. The devices must be mounted outside of the area where an airbag would open in case of an accident.

An additional new law that we strongly support gives special parking privileges to veterans identified by their license plates as Pearl Harbor Survivors, former American Prisoners of War, and recipients of the Legion of Valor, Congressional Medal of Honor or Purple Heart. When approved by local authorities, they will be able to park their vehicles without charge in any metered parking space. It is estimated that there are fewer than 10,000 license plates in California that would be subject to the bill's provisions. Thus, it shouldn't cause any disruption to parking patterns, and is a nice way to show support for their distinguished service to our country.


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