California Broadens Its Ban on Smartphone Use Behind the Wheel

In 2006, California passed legislation to ban texting and driving behind the wheel, as it was readily apparent that this new cellphone feature was causing significant and dangerous driver distraction. As technology advanced and changed, the laws did not. People hardly use their smartphones – saying cellphone is even a bit antiquated – just for texting anymore, as the devices can literally do more than most peoples’ home computers. A California law has caught up with the times.

In late September 2016, California law banned the use of smartphones behind the wheel for any reason, unless the driver was using a hands-free device.

Essentially every smartphone-related activity is banned behind the wheel, such as:

  • Texting
  • Taking photographs
  • Streaming videos
  • Browsing social media posts
  • Using navigation controls
  • “FaceTiming”

If your smartphone can do it, it is included on the list of prohibited actions. You can use a hands-free device to avoid the illegalities. Hands-free devices include Bluetooth adapters, speakerphone functions (phone cannot be in your hand), and devices already built into the console of your vehicle.

Is Hands-Free Accident-Free?

Although the law doesn’t ban hands-free use, it is still highly-advised that any use of a smartphone while driving be avoided at all times. The National Safety Council (NSC) has warned time and again that hands-free devices can be just as distracting as physically holding and using a cellphone while driving. The driver’s attention is still taken away from the task at hand. Most would argue that operating a multi-ton and fast-moving piece of metal is infinitely more important than telling a friend what you want them to order you for dinner, or checking your work emails on the go.

If you have been hurt by a distracted driver and need compensation for your injuries and damages, you can contact Accident Attorneys, your Antelope Valley personal injury law firm. Our Lancaster car accident lawyers are well-versed in California’s driving laws and can use that knowledge to your advantage when proving liability in your claim.


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