New California Law Will Prohibit Drivers From Holding Cell Phones

Driving, Text Messaging, Telephone.Governor Brown of California just signed an extension to the state’s current bill regarding cell phone use while driving. Assembly Bill 1785 will prohibit Californians from even holding their phones while operating a vehicle.

The bill, which will go into effect on January 1, 2017, will mean that getting caught driving with a phone in your hand will cost you $20 the first time and $50 for each subsequent offense.

For drivers who use their phone’s navigation feature or music app in the car, a cell phone car mount will be required by law. However, the driver will only be permitted to interact with the phone by “the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger.”

Assemblyman Bill Quirk introduced the bill to reduce the risk of distracted driving. According to state safety officials, the number of crashes related to phone use while driving appears to be on the rise. Though calling or texting without a hands-free device is already illegal, state law hasn’t touched upon the issue of using a phone for navigation while driving — until now.

Quirk’s press release reported that “There were 12 fatal collisions involving handheld cellphone use as an inattention factor in 2015.”

As many as 72% of Millennials text 10 or more times a day and 83% open messages within 90 seconds of receiving them. However, California Highway Patrol officer Jesus Chavez noted that cell phones have come a long way since California first restricted cell phone use while driving roughly a decade ago.

“[It’s] not just about answering the phone anymore and texting somebody now,” he said. “There are a variety of things: GPS, finding directions or reading the news.”

When the first bill was introduced, cell phones did little more than send and receive texts and phone calls. Today, Millennials and older adults alike are using their phones for a lot more, and they’re using them a lot more often as well.

For a freelancer or employee who telecommutes, a smart phone is an essential tool. Without it, the freelancer is cut off from clients and important information. No matter how important or urgent a text or email may seem, though, it is not worth getting a ticket or risking your life. If you live in California, make sure you review the rules and get yourself a cell phone car mount before the end of the year.

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