Posted on Tuesday, January 10th, 2017 at 10:18 pm    

The first day of 2017 rings in a new law that prohibits all handheld cell phone use while driving. The law is designed to reduce the number of traffic accidents caused by cell phone use. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), talking on a cell phone or texting is the number one source of driver distraction.

In 2015, the OTS released results from a new study that revealed an increase in the use of cell phones while driving. In the press release, Office Traffic Safety Director Ronda Craft said, “It’s shocking that nearly 10 percent of motorists were observed using their cell phones while driving a motor vehicle, a potentially lethal combination.” In the same release, CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said, “Discouraging drivers from operating a vehicle while distracted is a challenge that law enforcement is faced with year-round.”  It is the hope of lawmakers that California’s new cell phone law will help reduce the number of distracted driving accidents where cell phone use is a factor.

California’s New Ban on All Cell Phone Use While Driving

One September 26, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law new handheld cell phone restrictions set to take effect on January 1. As of New Year’s Day, AB-1785 Vehicles Use of Wireless Electronic Devices bans the handheld use of cell phones while driving for ANY reason. Drivers caught using a hand-held cell phone face fines of $20 for a first offense and $50 for a second offense.

How Does California’s New Cell Phone Law Differ from The Previous Version?

For years, the law banned California drivers from talking and texting on handheld cell phones while driving. However, the law did not prohibit the use of handheld cell phones for other uses. In order words, a major loophole in the old law allowed drivers to use their cellphones for other uses while driving, including reading emails, checking Facebook, shooting videos, and posting to social media accounts. The new law closes that loophole to prevent drivers from operating a hand-held cell phone while driving for ANY reason.

However, drivers can continue to use their cell phones while driving provided they utilize the phone in a completely hands-free, voice-activated and operated mode. If a driver uses his phone in the hands-free mode, the phone must be mounted to the windshield or the dashboard, and the driver is limited to touching the phone. In addition to mounting the phone for hands-free operation, the law specifically states, “The driver’s hand is used to activate or deactivate a feature or function of the handheld wireless telephone or wireless communications device with the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger.”

Will California’s New Cell Phone Law Reduce Accidents?

Officials and lawmakers hope California’s new cell phone law will reduce the number of traffic accidents caused by this type of driver distraction. A California Traffic Safety Survey in 2014 revealed that 61 percent of respondents had been hit or nearly hit by another driver using a cell phone. The new law is designed to reduce the number of drivers who use handheld cellphones. Only time will tell if lawmakers are correct in their belief the new law will make a difference in the number of tragic accidents caused by distracted driving due to cell phone use.

Call A Sacramento Distracted Driving Accident Attorney for Help

If a distracted driver has caused you or your family injury, call our Sacramento distracted driving accident attorney for more information. You need to understand your legal rights and options for recovering compensation for your injuries BEFORE you discuss you claim with the adjuster for the other party. Our attorneys understand the new distracted driving laws and how to use those laws to your favor in an accident claim.

Call the Tiemann Law Firm at (916) 999-9000 or chat with a representative on our website to request a free consultation with one of our Sacramento accident attorneys.

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