While California drivers are adjusting to new regulations allowing texting when using hands-free technology, the California Highway Patrol is focusing much of its efforts on teenage distracted drivers. The CHP received a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to inform teen drivers about the dangers of distracted driving and increase enforcement of California’s distracted driving laws.
According to the CHP, most car accidents involve some amount of driver distraction, and teenagers are particularly susceptible to succumbing to distractions while behind the wheel. The CHP reported that approximately 80 percent of all motor vehicle accidents in California involve a driver who was distracted at the time of the crash – and cell phones are the primary cause of driver distraction.
At a national level, teenage drivers are also the age group most likely to be distracted when involved in an auto accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 11 percent of teenage motorists were distracted when they were involved in a car accident that resulted in a fatality.
New distracted driver law in California relaxes texting ban
This focus on teenage drivers coincides with the first months in which non-teenage, California drivers have been allowed to use hands-free technology to send text messages while behind the wheel.
In 2009, a law took effect, banning all motorists in California from texting while driving. A new law went into effect in January 2013, allowing drivers over 18 years of age to use hands-free technology to send text messages while driving. The law also allows drivers to manually initiate the hands-free technology on their cell phones.
Novice drivers in California are still prohibited from using cell phones – both handheld and hands-free – while on the road. Even though the new law does not apply to younger drivers, many are still concerned that allowing drivers to use hands-free technology to text behind the wheel will lead to an increase in collisions. Although the manual and visual distraction is low, drivers are still cognitively distracted when listening and responding to text messages while driving.
In addition to the handheld texting ban, motorists in California are also prohibited from using handheld cell phones for other activities while on the road. For instance, if a driver wishes to make a call, he or she must have hands-free technology available to complete the call.
Avoid distracted driving accidents in California
When someone is injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a distracted driver, he or she may be entitled to damages. If you or a loved one has been injured in such a collision, consulting with an experienced, California personal injury attorney will ensure your rights are protected.