In the smartphone age, people are more connected than ever before, but also attempting to stay connected when they shouldn’t: behind the wheel. And it is not just cell phones. Distracted driving is anything that takes your eyes or mind off the road, or hands off the steering wheel – especially when texting or using your phone. A study from the California Office of Traffic Safety found that 1 out of 8 drivers is on their smartphone while driving on California roadways. Using your cell phone while driving is not only dangerous, but also illegal.
What you should know about California’s Cell Phone Distracted Driving Law:
- A first offense ticket will cost at least $162, and at least $285 for the second offense.
- The law applies at stop signs and stop lights, just like when you are driving. Pull over to a safe parking space to handle your business.
- While driving, you cannot use a cell phone or similar electronic communications device while holding it in your hand. If the device is used in a hands-free manner, such as speaker phone or voice commands, that is legal, but never while holding it. Bottom line you can’t touch your cell phone while you are driving.
- Using communication systems built into the vehicle by the manufacturer is legal. However, it still can be dangerous due to the brain’s inability to safely handle both driving and using in-dash or speaker phone functions.
- To be legal, the phone or device must be placed in a mount attached either on the dashboard, center console, or a seven-inch square section in the lower right corner of the windshield, or in a five-inch square section in the lower left corner of the windshield nearest the driver. The mounting or device placement cannot hinder the driver’s view.
- Emergency personnel such as police, fire and ambulance may use hand-held cell phones, but only in the legitimate course of duty.
Other serious driver distractions such as eating, grooming, reading, reaching for fallen objects, changing clothes and others are just as dangerous and can result in a ticket for “speed unsafe for conditions” or “reckless driving.” These infractions carry much larger fines, plus points against your driving record. If you are injured in an accident on the road caused by the negligence and recklessness of another driver in LA, you may wish to seek legal assistance with a potential claim from the Wilshire Law Firm.
Please be safe Ventura. Focus on the road.