Eyes on the road, not the TV screen, reader says

Dear Street Smarts, Q: The stop and go Highway 1 south between Soquel and 41st avenues found me behind a commuter that was having difficulty keeping his vehicle between the lane lines -- on both sides. His breaking and rather slow acceleration was completely out of sync with the rest of the so-called traffic flow. The daily commute itself is frustrating enough without this spastic unpredictable stop and go. While at a complete stop right behind him, I notice what looked like a small screen hanging from his review mirror. As best as I could make out, he appeared to have something on -- like the news. I believe this is not supposed to be done. If so, is there a fine or is it like the cell phone law? Richard Kuechle DDS, Corralitos A: The law that prohibits drivers from being able to watch TV while behind the rule is California Vehicle Code Section 27602 (a), and it carries a fine of about $146 after fees and assessments kick in. The law states that “a person shall not drive a motor vehicle if a television receiver, a video monitor, or a television or video screen, or any other, similar means of visually displaying a television broadcast or video signal that produces entertainment or business applications, is operating and is located in the motor vehicle at a point forward of the back of the driver’s seat, or is operating and the monitor, screen, or display is visible to the driver while driving the motor vehicle.” Excluded from the do not watch list include a vehicle information display, global positioning display, mapping display and a monitor that enhances or supplements “the driver's view forward, behind, or to the sides of a motor vehicle for the purpose of maneuvering the vehicle.” Meanwhile, a new law went into effect this year on the subject. The Television Broadcast or Video Signal law allows drivers to operate their vehicle with a television receiver, video monitor, TV or video screen if the equipment is designed, operated and configured in a manner that prevents the motorist from watching the television broadcast or video signal while behind the wheel.
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