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Distracted Driving Laws: New Updates and What You Need to Know

Distracted Driving Laws: New Updates and What You Need to Know

Just in the past two days, I have seen three people texting while driving. One was doing so while traveling over 70 mph on the 118 freeway. Not surprising as current statistics show almost 13% of California drivers were using electronic communication devices while behind the wheel in 2016, up from almost 10% in 2015. Southern California motorists hold the phone up to their ear at a rate double to that of other parts of the state. Typing and posting were up almost a third in 2016. Instead of our drivers being more cautious, learning from the wisdom of PSAs, DMV statistics and plain common sense, people continue to tempt fate and put each of our lives at risk for driving while distracted-texting that all important message that can’t wait until the car is parked. So here is what you need to know.

Current prohibitions:
1. Adult drivers, 18 and older, are banned from using cell phones unless they employ hands-free devices.
2. Text messaging is banned for all drivers, which includes writing, sending and reading. Hands-free and voice controlled texting is allowed.
3. Drivers under age 18 are prohibited from using wireless phones while driving-with or without hands- free accessories.
4. School bus operators and transit bus drivers prohibited from using cell phones while driving.

New Legislation:
According to Assembly Bill 1785, signed into law by Gov. Brown on September 26, 2016, the following has been added to the distracted driving legislation:

As contained in California Vehicle Code §23123.5:
1. A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while holding and operating a handheld wireless telephone or an electronic wireless communications device unless the wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation, and it is used in that manner while driving. (This does not apply to manufacturer-installed systems embedded in the vehicle.)

2. A handheld wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device may be operated in a manner requiring the use of the driver’s hand while the driver is operating the vehicle only if both of the following conditions are satisfied:
– a. The device is mounted on the vehicle’s windshield such as with a GPS device or mounted on the dash/center console in a manner that does not hinder the driver’s view of the road.
– b. The driver may only activate or deactivate a feature or function on the device with a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger. (see, Vehicle Code §23123.5 for more details)

Please do not risk either your life or the lives of those driving in your vehicle or on the roads around you. Do not drive while distracted. Wait until you arrive at your destination before you read or respond to a text. No text is more important than your life.

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