New California Law Bans Holding Phone While Driving

As of January 1, 2017, California is now a completely hands-free state when it comes to cellphone usage for motorists. Bill 1785, which goes into effect at the start of 2017, makes it illegal for drivers to perform any action that requires the use of a phone or other device in their hands – including texting, tapping, scrolling, swiping, and making calls.

The evolution of smartphones and the increase in technology required that the law catch up to technology by addressing the expanded capabilities of cellphones, including taking pictures, watching videos, using maps, etc. This new law clarifies an existing California law passed in 2006 that only restricted talking and texting while driving.

Drivers who violate the law are subject to a fine that starts at $20 (subsequent violations may result in a $50 fine).

Limited Cell Phone Use While Mounted Still Allowed

However, the law does allow drivers to use their phones via a mounted stand on a car’s windshield or dashboard, although only limited or single swipes or taps are allowed while mounted. So you can still use Google Maps to navigate through traffic, but it is recommended that you set your navigation route before driving or use voice-activated functions. With the new law, it is likely that more drivers will use voice-controlled functions that are common in smartphones.

This is an effort by lawmakers to help eliminate distractions and multitasking behind the wheel, which is responsible for numerous car accidents and fatalities nationwide. According to lawmakers, 8 out of 10 accidents are caused by distracted drivers, and cellphone usage is one of the major sources of distractions. Every second counts when we are driving, and it is important that drivers take every measure to avoid distractions.

The bottom line? Keep your phone out of your hand and keep your eyes on the road while driving.

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