Distracted Driving Prompts New Cell Phone Restrictions in California
On September 26th, Governor Jerry Brown signed a new state law (Assembly Bill 1785) expanding California’s restrictions on cell phone use while driving.
As of January 1, 2017, “holding and operating” a mobile phone for any reason while driving in California will be against the law. The exception to this rule is motorists using smartphones that are mounted to the dashboard or windshield for functions that require a single swipe motion or tap of the driver’s finger. Launching apps and surfing the web is outlawed.
According to Distraction.gov, here are the current California state laws including the latest restrictions:
- Handheld ban for drivers of all ages (Primary law)
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (Primary law)
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers (Secondary law)
- Ban on texting for drivers of all ages (Primary law)
Note: California defines novice drivers as drivers of all ages under the age of 18.
The first restrictions on cellphone use while driving in California were passed by the Legislature in 2006. Existing laws ban drivers from calling and texting while on the road unless using a hands-free device (e.g. Bluetooth). However, using navigation apps was not illegal under current law. The bill was introduced by Assemblyman Bill Quirk in order to prevent distracted driving.
80 percent of all crashes result from distracted driving/driver inattention. In 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
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