California’s new cell phone law takes effect on January 1. Assembly Bill 1785, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in September, bans the use of a handheld cellphone or other wireless communications device unless the “device is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation, and it is used in that manner while driving.” Lawmakers and others are hopeful the new law will reduce the number of distracted driving accidents caused by the use of handheld cell phones.

Can I Still Use My Cell Phone in The Car?

The new cell phone law for drivers does not completely ban the use of cell phones while driving. However, the law does have very specific requirements for the use of cell phones while driving.

In the second section of the bill, a handheld wireless phone or communication device can be used while driving provided that the driver obeys the following to requirements (printed below directly from the text of AB 1785):

Requirement Number One: “The handheld wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device is mounted on a vehicle’s windshield in the same manner a portable Global Positioning System (GPS) is mounted pursuant to paragraph (12) of subdivision (b) of Section 26708 or is mounted on or affixed to a vehicle’s dashboard or center console in a manner that does not hinder the driver’s view of the road.”

AND

Requirement Number Two: “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.”

Drivers who continue to use their cellphones or other wireless communication devices in violation of the new law face fines of $20 for the first offense and $50 for the second offense.

Why Did California Need a New Cell Phone Law?

The number of distracted driving accidents is growing. Some of the alarming statistics from Distraction.gov about this dangerous trend include:

  • Approximately 169.3 billion text messages are sent each month in the United States
  • 431,000 people were injured, and 3,179 people were killed in distracted driving accidents during 2014
  • The use of handheld devices, including text messaging, increased between 2013 and 2014
  • During any daylight hour, over 660,000 drivers are using cellphones or other electronic devices while driving

It is obvious that something must be done in order to reduce the number of distracted driving accidents due to cell phone use. Thousands of people are injured or killed because drivers refuse to stop using their cell phones while driving. In addition to the tragic loss of life and health, distracted driving accidents result in millions of dollars in damages each year throughout California.

The California Office of Traffic Safety places texting and talking on a cell phone as the number one source of distraction for drivers. The OTS also reports that 80 percent of motor vehicle crashes involve some type of driver distraction or inattention. As a result of these statistics, the OTS conducted a study of cell phone use while driving. In a press release for the study in 2015, it was noted that 10 percent of the motorists observed were using their cellphones, an increase of 6.6 percent from 2014.

CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said in the press release, “Discouraging drivers from operating a vehicle while distracted is a challenge that law enforcement is faced with year-round. By raising awareness through education and enforcement, we are working toward changing the dangerous behavior of using a cell phone while driving – and the purpose is to save lives.” California’s new cell phone use law may give law enforcement the tool it needs to decrease the number of tragic accidents caused by distracted drivers.

Call A Fresno Distracted Driving Accident Attorney for Help

If a distracted driver injured you, you have rights. You may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries. Our Fresno distracted driving accident attorney wants to help.

For a free legal consultation and case evaluation with a Fresno distracted driving accident attorney, call Torem & Associates at 1-800-954-4444. You may also chat with a representative online or use our convenient online contact form to get more information about distracted driving accident claims in California.