A California law went into effect last week that makes holding onto a cell phone while driving illegal. That means, not only will drivers be unable to talk, text, or email–measures that have already taken effect–but they will be unable to streaming videos, music, or log into their social media accounts.
A California law went into effect last week that makes holding onto a cell phone while driving illegal. That means, not only will drivers be unable to talk, text, or email–measures that have already taken effect–but they will be unable to streaming videos, music, or log into their social media accounts. This law is more encompassing than the original ruling already in place in 46 states eliminating texting, and goes beyond what is even currently recommended at the federal level. The hope is to decrease the number of accidents caused by distracted driving — the number one cause of collisions! Governor Jerry Brown signed the law in September and it officially went into effect in the Golden State on January 1st.
Under the new law, cell phones are required to be mounted on the dashboard, center console or against the windshield, either in the lower left hand or right hand corner. The mount cannot under any circumstances limit a driver’s clear view out of the windshield. Drivers eighteen years of age or older can use a hands free device such as a Bluetooth ear piece and voice command to operate the device. The law also still allows a driver to touch the phone with a single swipe in order to initiate operation. The hands free option is not available to anyone under eighteen. These drivers will need to refrain from cell phone usage altogether while behind the wheel. An initial offense for violators will be $20 with the fee raised to $50 for habitual offenders. This helps to crack down on the drivers who have claimed they were using their GPS to find a destination, whether or not this was actually the case. Using speaker phone rather than holding the phone to one’s ear will also not pass the test under the new law.
Similar measures to limit distracted driving are expected to roll out in additional states, including Massachusetts, Virginia, Iowa and Wisconsin, to name a few. However, the new law only addresses a portion of the distracted driving issue, and in fact, many accidents occur not from accessing a smartphone, but rather from a mind drifting elsewhere while behind the wheel, thinking about other activities. Checking one’s phone actually allows for a connection to the present, while daydreaming and wayward thinking take away from the task at hand and even mentally remove a driver from the present altogether. Safety measures designed to be placed in cars to prevent the consequences of such distractions are also currently being considered. Such technology would include automatic braking and warning signals to alarm drivers, among others.
The hands free addition to the distracted driving crack down is expected to boost sales at cell phone retailers. Unable to simply hold their phones, drivers will inevitably inquire about other, hands free alternatives. If they haven’t already, they will need to eat the cost of a mount and wireless ear piece. There are also options for wireless headphones, so drivers can still listen to their favorite playlists.