Hey drivers, here's a thought: How about keeping your eyes (and ears) on the road instead of on your cell phone? Just have to chat or text message while driving? Then steer clear of California. It's already illegal to make calls on hand-held mobiles there, and now Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill into law that prohibits people from reading, writing or sending messages over wireless electronic devices while operating motor vehicles.  The measure, state Senate Bill 28, takes effect Jan. 1.

First-time offenders will face a $20 fine; subsequent violations are $50 a pop.

The new law comes on the heels of the ban on using hand-held cell phones while driving, which took effect July 1. Both measures were sponsored by Democratic State Sen. Joe Simitian of Palo Alto.

"I am happy to sign this bill, because it further encourages safe and responsible driving," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "Banning electronic text messaging while driving will keep drivers' hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, making our roadways a safer place for all Californians." (What a concept.)

(Photo: iStockphoto/Rich Legg)