Hands off your phone! The distracted driving law is getting tougher in California

texting and driving texas

Recently, a new law was signed in by California Governor Jerry Brown, which makes it ‘an offense to drive while holding and operating a cellphone or electronic communications device’.

What does this mean? It means that if you so much as pick up your phone while driving, you’ll be breaking the law. Here’s what you need to know.

While driving, it will be illegal to use your phone for activities such as:

  • Taking pictures
  • Streaming music
  • Using messaging apps
  • Using social media
  • Reading a message
  • Entering an address into GPS

What IS legal?
You may use your phone while driving if it’s mounted to the windshield or dash AND can be activated with just a finger swipe.

If you break the law there is a $20 fine for the first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense.

Why is the distracted driving law changing?
People use their phones to do more and more — and this is leading to dangerous behavior behind the wheel.

Assemblymaker Bill Quirk wrote the bill (AC 1785) which proposed the law. He said he wrote it to bring the law up to speed with technology.

“Technology has improved so rapidly, and our cell phones are more capable of much more than just calls and text messages. Smartphones have an abundance of available features that demand a driver’s attention, leading to very dangerous driving behavior. However, such activities are not clearly prohibited by law,” Assemblymember Quirk stated.

“This bill targets the deadliest cause of distracted driving related crashes, the use of an electronic device while driving. The accidents, injuries and deaths associated with this form of distracted driving are completely preventable. I am proud that Governor Brown has agreed that it is time that we update our archaic laws on the issue and do our part to make sure drivers are focused on the road. This bill will save lives.”

Prepare for the law — stop distracted driving now
The law comes into force in January 2017, but, of course, using your phone while driving before then is still dangerous. Our advice? Put your phone out of sight to resist temptation while driving. If it’s necessary for you to have your phone in sight, to use navigation software for example, be sure to use an approved dashboard or window mount, set up your route planning before you start driving, and make sure you can use the phone with just a swipe, so that your eyes, and your attention, can remain on the road.

We all know we shouldn’t use a cellphone while driving. It’s a distraction — and is involved in around one in four collisions . But it’s so tempting. There’s Snapchat, messaging apps, Facebook, Instagram…the list goes on and will only get bigger. And that’s exactly why the distracted driving law is getting tougher.

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