Because of the danger that distracted drivers, particularly those in the teenage years cause, many states have passed laws banning activities ranging from texting or using hand-held cellphones while behind the wheel. In California, it is illegal for drivers younger than 18 to use a cell phone (hand-held or hands-free) while behind the wheel. Additionally, there is a statewide ban on texting while driving for all drivers.
However, as mobile technologies have evolved since the law was written, one California lawmaker thinks that the current law must be changed to keep up. Sen. Cathleen Galgiani recently proposed a bill that would take the law a step further in preventing teen drivers from becoming distracted.
Senate Bill 194 would broaden the existing law banning texting while driving and cellphone use among teenagers by including new technologies in the ban. In essence, the bill would prevent drivers under 18 years of age from using any electronic wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle, regardless of whether the device is hand-held, hands-free or voice-activated.
If passed, the new bill would ban teen drivers from using new additions to automotive technology such as Siri voice integration. Additionally, the ban would include hands-free options such as Bluetooth voice-activated options that are now available on the steering columns of new car models.
Teens especially prone to distraction
Previous studies have shown that teens are more likely to become distracted while behind the wheel, partially because they are the most likely to send or read text messages. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, young drivers under age 25 are three times more likely to do so. Texting while driving is inherently dangerous, increasing the possibility of a car accident by 23 times, according to the Department of Transportation.
Additionally, studies have shown that when teens reach driving age, they often have an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex-the control center of the brain-and a fully developed limbic system, which controls feelings of reward. As a result, it is difficult for teens to focus on a single task.
Therefore, if a teenage driver is distracted by something, such as a conversation with a friend, it can easily tax all of the resources that the teen’s brain is able to devote to maintaining control of the motor vehicle, significantly raising the risk of a car accident.
Consult an attorney
Since the law targets teens’ vulnerability to being distracted while driving, it would be a step in the right direction if it passes. Unfortunately, no law, no matter how well meaning, can entirely eliminate this problem from California’s roadways. If you have been injured by an inattentive driver, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure your right to compensation is protected.