Driving While on the Phone in California

Recently, the state of California passed legislation making it illegal to hold your phone while you drive. That means you can’t have your hands on your phone for any reason. You can take the screen briefly to take certain actions, but only if you have the phone securely mounted. So if you need to use Google Maps to get around, you better have a mount ready to go. The same goes for music, hands-free calling, and anything else you might use the phone for. But if you’re driving while on the phone in California, you’re in for a hefty fine.

Talking on the Phone While Driving

You can still use your phone while you’re driving. The new law doesn’t prevent hands-free calling or using maps and other features of the phone. However, some reports suggest that holding the phone isn’t the issue – it’s the conversation that distracts drivers. That begs the question – will the new law help curb distracted driving-related accidents? The California Office of Traffic Safety reports that 80% of crashes are due to driver inattention of some kind – so hopefully it does. At the very least, it should cut down on people perusing Facebook and text message while behind the wheel.

How Does the New Law Effect You?

How Often Do You Use Your Cellphone While Driving?

At the Beliz Law Firm, we thought it’d be interesting to gauge just how often Californians use their phones while driving. We ran a quick Google Survey and asked, “How Often Do You Use Your Cellphone While Driving?”

Here are the results:

driving while on the phone

A third of people responding to the question claim they “never” use their phones while driving. This actually seems like a believable number. Nearly 20% said they use only voice commands, so they are good to go for the new law. However, over 35% of people say they ‘sometimes,’ ‘only when stopped,’ or ‘frequently’ use their phones. With the new law in place at the beginning of 2017, they are risky steep fines by doing so.

The demographic breakdown was also interesting. Perhaps those in their 40s and 50s were just more honest, but a higher percentage of the 45-54 age group selected “frequently” than any other group. It is possible that 18-34 olds simply define “frequently” differently than their elders.

Final Thoughts

With so many accidents related to cellphones and distracted driving, it’s clear that something should be done. But are the laws we are writing and putting on the books effective? Our initial thoughts are that California’s new law will help at least on some level. Now, if a police officer sees a driver lost in a post or message while holding their phone, at least they can stop them and prevent the imminent danger.

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