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Will stricter distracted driving laws help in California?

Distracted driving is one of the most important safety issues on the road nowadays. The problem is well-known, with numerous studies demonstrating the risks of distracted driving and states taking various measures to address the problem. Still, drivers continue to engage in distracted activity, particularly with their smartphones.

Under current law, California bans texting and the use of handheld devices for all drivers, as well as cell phone use for bus drivers and novice drivers. California lawmakers feel, though, that this may not be enough. Governor Jerry Brown recently received a bill on his desk which would prohibit drivers from “holding and operating” a phone for any reason. The bill would require drivers to secure their smartphones to their windshield or dashboard and would limit their use only to motions which require a single swipe or tap of the finger. 

The idea behind the bill is to limit drivers’ use of smartphones only to what may be essential, but the bill is not universally support. Some say the language is too broad, and that state law already provides extensive prohibitions. As it stands now, drivers are allowed to use hands-free devices, such as headsets, but navigation apps are may be permissible as well, as has been held by one court. The bill mentioned above would address what is seen as a loophole in current law.

Distracted driving, of course, comes in a variety of forms and is something for which all drivers must take responsibility. Every driver has a legal duty to exercise reasonable care in the operation of motor vehicles, and failure to do so opens them up to civil liability for injuries and other damages they cause. Those who are injured by a distracted driving should always work with an experienced attorney to build the strongest case possible and to ensure they have the best opportunity to maximize their damages.

Source:, State Laws: California. 

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