Earlier this year, a tough new law took effect in California which is aimed at preventing cell phone use while driving. Under the law, if a driver is caught holding his or her cell phone while driving, the driver may receive a ticket. Previously, drivers had to be caught in the act of making a phone call or texting in order to receive a ticket. Now, police can ticket a driver simply for touching the phone while driving.
Under the law, drivers can still use their cell phones if they can use them hands-free, which normally means voice activated or operated. In order to do so legally, though, the phones must be mounted on the dashboard or a windshield or a console. If the phone is mounted, the driver is allowed to touch the phone once, in order to “activate or deactivate a feature or function . . . with the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger.”
This new law is aimed at putting a stop to the epidemic of cell phone use while driving, which has gotten out of control in recent years. Many drivers check and post to Facebook while driving, scroll through music lists, send emails and texts, and make videos. A California study found that about one out of every eight drivers on the roads pay as much attention to their cell phone as to the road. Also, it’s been estimated that some type of distracted driving is a factor in 80 percent of crashes.
Not everyone is happy about the new law. Many drivers rely on maps and other cell phone features while driving. Drivers for Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare services rely on their phones to tell them when someone wants a ride, where to pick up passengers, and gives a map of the route to take to transport them. However, much of that can be done with a single tap of the finger, or can be done while parked.
This law is attempting to stop the increase in traffic fatalities, which has occurred as a result of a combination of increased population and traffic, and access to mobile technology. Forty-six states have outlawed texting and driving, but it can be difficult for police officers to catch drivers in the act of texting. California’s lawmakers reviewed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and noticed that in 2015, a huge percentage of the people killed in California car accidents were distracted while they drove.
However, despite the good intentions of the law, there will always be distractions while driving. Other people in the car, the radio, and a pet in the vehicle can all keep drivers from giving their full attention to the road. Many feel that there are no laws that can ever solve the problem of districted driving.
Automakers are also starting to address the issue of distracted driving. They are slowly developing features that will warn drivers that a vehicle is in their blind spot if they try to change lanes, or will warn drivers if they are approaching another vehicle too quickly. However, these technologies can also serve as a distraction themselves.
It’s probably too soon to know whether new laws and safety initiatives will help in the fight against distracted driving. Technology and new laws may never be able to control whether a driver chooses to focus on the road. However, if you are ever harmed by a distracted driver, you have legal options. You can choose to seek compensation against that driver in court.
If you are in the San Francisco area, and you have been harmed in an automobile accident that was caused by a distracted driver, call Micha Star Liberty, San Francisco personal injury attorney at 510-645-1000. My team can help. Call today to learn more or to schedule a free consultation.