By Cameron Harp
For the Daily Titan
The new Wireless Communications Device Law, which became effective Jan. 1, makes it a violation to â€œwrite, send or read text-based communicationâ€ on a cell phone while driving.
While there are students at Cal State Fullerton who seem to have cut down on the amount of texting they do while driving, some admit the law has not completely changed their habits.
It would seem understandable for a student to pick up their cell phone to pass the time while sitting on the 57 Freeway in morning traffic or while staking their claim on an aisle in the Nutwood Parking Structure.
But students should know that a simple text message could come with a base fine of $20 for the first offense and $50 for a subsequent citation.
Neil Solanki, a junior health science major, said he has reduced the amount of texting he does while driving, but he will still â€œtext while there is a red light.â€
â€œI havenâ€™t heard of cops enforcing it or cops pulling someone over. Compared to a $300 speeding ticket, itâ€™s not a big deal,â€ Solanki said.
Not all students feel like Solanki. Alexa Rodriguez, a junior criminal justice major, said she is thankful that the law was enacted since she would find herself drifting into the next lane when she would send text messages while driving.
â€œActually, I really donâ€™t text while I drive, but mostly because I canâ€™t multitask,â€ she said. â€œIt makes life safer for everyone out on the road.â€
While standing on the street corner of State College and Nutwood, one could easily come to the conclusion that CSUF students and the surrounding community are in agreement with Rodriguez and taking the law seriously.
Over a period of 10 minutes in the early afternoon on a Friday, only one driver who passed by appeared to be texting on their cell phone.
This number appears to be low, but according to the statistics provided by CSUF Police Lt. Donald K. Landers, it seems to be normal.
During the period from July 1 to Dec. 8, Landers said that 34 tickets were given out for use of wireless phones while driving around the campus.
This is â€œaverage,â€ considering that during July and August there was not a lot of activity on campus as far as students, he said.
â€œItâ€™s obvious some people are not following the law and those are just the citations that were issued. That doesnâ€™t mean we didnâ€™t give 30 warnings or more,â€ Landers said.
Landers added that the law clearly states that there is no grace period, but whether a citation is issued is always at the judgment of the officer â€œbased upon their determination of the most appropriate action for the situation.â€
Fullertonâ€™s police department has posted a flyer in the news section of their Web site about National Safety Month stating, â€œDistracted driving accounts for 80 percent of all crashes.â€
When asked if he thought the law is cutting down on the number of accidents, Landers said he did not have any basis upon which to make that statement or make that judgment.
â€œWell, I think it has that potential, but I canâ€™t tell you whether it has reduced texting while driving or not,â€ he said. â€œWe donâ€™t have that many accidents on the campus itself. Theyâ€™re usually very low speed. Some of them donâ€™t even get reported. They exchange information and go about their business.â€
Landers said that it is too early to know the impact that the law has had on the CSUF campus.
Time will tell whether the law affects the amount of accidents in the area (though the statistic is already low) and possibly other traffic offenses.