California is expanding behind-the-wheel restrictions on handheld cell phone use.
The California Court of Appeal a few years ago ruled that using a cell phone’s map applications or GPS were allowed under California’s handheld device laws, as I discussed here.
Come January 1st, that ruling will be superseded by AB-1785, signed by Governor Jerry Brown this week.
The law will revise California Vehicle Code section 23123.5 and make it illegal to drive while holding a cell phone, even if only to look at the screen for directions on a GPS application.
The law will allow the use of handheld cell phones for map applications as long as the phone is 1) mounted on the dashboard and does not obstruct the driver’s view; and 2) the phone is accessed by tapping the screen or swiping with one’s finger.
Law enforcement is heralding the new law as a way to prevent collisions caused by distracted driving. Experts say that cell phone use can cause cognitive impairment and continue to distract a driver for several seconds after the phone has been turned off.
Let’s hope the new law will help prevent crashes and save lives.
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