Recently we talked about developing a safe driving program at work and we’ve talked a lot about distracted driving. But, did you know there is a new law in effect designed to make you keep your hands off that mobile device?
Texting, surfing the Internet, tuning in to music, and using an app on a mobile device while behind the wheel are all illegal. Now under Assembly Bill 1785 that went into effect January 1st, you can get a ticket and a lofty fine just for holding a mobile device while driving.
If that sounds like ‘they’ have gone too far this time, consider these simple facts:
- When you take your eyes off the road to use your mobile device for just a few seconds while driving 55 mph, it’s like driving blindfolded across the length of a football field.
- The California Office of Traffic Safety estimates that up to 10 percent of motorists use their mobile device while driving.
- 80 percent of vehicle crashes and 3,000 deaths nationwide involve distracted driving.
These statistics prompted the creation of laws to reduce distracted driving. However, smartphones with apps like Snapchat, Facebook, Pandora, Spotify, and even GPS made them difficult to enforce.
Hands free now means your hands are free to grip the wheel—and that’s all!
The new law was designed to make getting behind the wheel safe by closing a loophole in California’s hands-free cellphone laws. Previously, the law banned only talking and texting while driving, but other uses of a smartphone were still legal.
Now, you can only use your mobile device if you do it hands-free using voice activation or through a system embedded in your vehicle.
If you operate your device using your hand, you must satisfy the following conditions:
- You can only use your cellphone if it’s mounted to the windshield, dashboard, or console.
- With the phone mounted, you can only touch the phone once to activate or deactivate it with a single swipe or tap of your finger.
This new law should make it easier for officers to stop and cite drivers for illegal phone use.