In the U.S., approximately 1,000 people are injured every day in crashes involving distracted driving. One major cause of distraction is the use of hand-held electronic devices by drivers. For this reason, California is one of 14 other U.S. states that bans the use of hand-held cellphones while driving.
Since 2006, California has placed restrictions on drivers’ use of cellphones, primarily related to texting and talking activities. But as smart devices have become capable of completing more tasks, including internet browsing and searching, the California legislature has responded to address the problem of distracted driving. As of January 1, 2017, California law now bans the use of any hand-held wireless device while behind the wheel.
California Vehicle Code 23123.5 provides that a driver may not hold or operate a wireless telephone or electronic communications device unless it is specifically configured to allow for hands-free or voice-activated operation and is used in that manner while driving. Devices that require the use of hands while driving may only be used when two specific criteria are met:
1) the device is mounted on the windshield or dashboard in a way that does not obstruct the driver’s view of traffic; and
2) the device only requires one single swipe or tap from the driver’s hand to function.
The wireless device ban while driving is quite broad and applies to any handheld devices or laptop computers with mobile data access, as well as mobile radios, broadband communications devices and pagers. The law does not apply to manufacturer-installed devices in cars or emergency services personnel operating hand-held devices while working in an emergency vehicle. The consequences for violating the law is a $20 fine for the first offense and $50 fine for subsequent offenses.
California is at the forefront of driving safety in the U.S. It is likely that in the future other states will follow suit and ban the use of all hand-held wireless devices while driving. For now, it is important that all California drivers, residents and visitors, be aware of the restrictions. While it may be tempting to use these devices while driving, doing so is not only an unsafe distraction, it is against the law.
Distracted driving is a leading cause of fatal car accidents in the U.S. The attorneys at Alexander Law Group, LLP have significant experience litigating cases involving serious car accidents. Call us now at 888.777.1776 or visit us online to find out how we can help.