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New California Law Relaxes Texting While Driving Ban
The new law in California allows drivers to use hands-free technology to send text messages or listen to incoming messages while they are behind the wheel. Previously, motorists in the state had been prohibited from texting altogether, regardless of whether they were using hands-free technology.
Now that the law has taken effect, some law enforcement officials have expressed concern that it will lead to an increase in distracted driving accidents in the state. The law allows drivers to look at and touch their phone in order to activate the hands-free technology, leading to some amount of visual distraction. In addition, the hands-free technology does not address the danger of cognitive distraction, as drivers will still have to focus on the subject matter of the message – whether they are composing or receiving the text.
As texting has been shown to significantly increase the risk of a motor vehicle accident, many are concerned that the relaxed texting law will have dangerous repercussions on California’s roads. According to a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon, when a driver uses a cellphone, the amount of brain activity he or she uses to drive safely decreases by 37 percent. Consequently, some argue that even if drivers are not using their hands, texting while driving is still too dangerous for California motorists.
While the text messaging ban has been relaxed slightly, there are still a number of other laws governing distracted driving in California.
California’s distracted driving laws
Most states have unique laws prohibiting certain types of distracted driving. In California, all drivers are banned from using handheld cellphones when behind the wheel. In addition, as previously noted, California motorists may not send or read text messages, unless they are using hands-free technology.
According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, drivers who are in violation of either the texting or handheld cellphone usage ban will incur a fine of $159.
California also has distracted driving laws focused on particular types of drivers. Bus drivers and novice drivers in the state are prohibited from using any type of cellphone – whether handheld or hands-free – when operating a vehicle.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident caused by a distracted driver, consulting with an experienced California personal injury attorney will ensure just compensation is received.