Rise in Distracted Driving Sparks New Restrictions for California Drivers


Despite widespread education and law enforcement efforts, distracted driving has been on the rise in California in recent years.

Still, the reality is that distracted driving can have devastating consequences, annually taking the lives of more than 3,000 people and injuring more than 430,000 nationwide.

Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a bill that significantly expands restrictions on the use of cellphones behind the wheel.

Drivers in California are already prohibited from using handheld devices to call or text, but the distracted driving law, which was passed nearly a decade ago, did not specifically address activities such as adjusting music playlists, using navigation apps, taking photos or live streaming.

Under the new legislation, drivers are prohibited from "holding or operating" mobile devices for any reason. The law will go into effect in January 2017.

Drivers will be allowed, however, to swipe or tap their devices as long as they are mounted on the dashboard or windshield of the vehicle.

This year the state Office of Traffic Safety conducted a study that found nearly 13 percent of California drivers were texting, talking or otherwise using their cellphones while behind the wheel.

Similar studies found that 9 percent of drivers were distracted by phones in 2015, and 11 percent were distracted by phones in 2013. The rise in distracted driving underscores the importance of ongoing education efforts and law enforcement. For more on what to do after a collision with a distracted driver, please see our overview of texting while driving accidents. 

If you have a case, contact our firm today to learn more about how we can help you.

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