California lawmakers recognize the dangers of texting and driving in California and have attempted to combat this modern problem by writing and modifying laws around the ever-changing technology. Texting while driving is considered “distracted driving,” which accounts for over 6,000 deaths in the United States each year. Texting takes the driver’s eyes off of the road for an average of 5 seconds. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, most automobile accidents occur within only a 3-second timeframe for reaction!
Unfortunately, since technology develops and changes so quickly, it’s difficult for lawmakers to keep up-to-date. They have to know the current capabilities of cell phones and decide which aspects are reasonable to permit while driving. For example, the ability to use voice commands to activate devices is improving all the time. Regardless of the activity, mobile phones distract drivers from what they should be focusing on, and put everyone around them at risk for injury. If you are the victim of a car accident that involves cell phone usage, you may be entitled to compensation from a distracted driving personal injury case.
California Smart Phone Laws
The California laws that govern smart phone usage while driving are constantly being amended and expanded. Cell phone usage while driving was first banned in California in 2006, but the laws allowed drivers to talk on the phone using hands-free devices. In 2008, the state also banned texting.
Since then, the laws have become more complex. Texting, reading or sending email, and browsing the web are all illegal activities. With the improvement of voice-activated programs and dictated texting, drivers are allowed to send messages, but it is illegal to turn on your phone while driving to do so. California drivers are not allowed to program their phone GPS, but are allowed to type directions into a GPS device that is not part of a phone. They are also allowed to read directions from a GPS that is not on a phone. It is also illegal to text or read emails even when stopped at a traffic light or stuck in traffic, but it is legal to do so while parked. Drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to use mobile phones at all, including hands-free devices, except in emergency situations. Lawmakers still hotly debate the allowance for hands-free mobile phone use, since it still distracts drivers.
Results of California Anti-Texting Laws
Sadly, these laws have done little to dissuade drivers from texting and using their mobile phones in general: they just try to hide the fact that they are using a phone, which can make them even more distracted. Drivers who are caught using their phone face a small $20 fine for the first offense, and $50 fines for each subsequent violation. Studies have shown no significant decrease in automobile accidents following the creation of the laws.
If you experience an accident that involved cell phone usage, it’s important to notify the police. This information can make a difference in a personal injury case. Other evidence, such as phone records, can be provided for the insurance companies and the courtroom. It can be beneficial to hire a legal team experienced with text-related personal injury cases. At Grennier Law, PC, we will fight to get you the most compensation possible from your California personal injury case.