A law that went into effect in California gives drivers in the Golden State another reason to think twice before using a handheld electronic device while behind the wheel. Assembly Bill 47, which was passed by a majority vote and approved by Governor Gavin Newsom, strengthens California’s existing distracted driving law. Under the old law, motorists who used a handheld mobile phone while driving faced fines but no penalty points. Under AB 47, a second offense within a three-year period would lead to one penalty point being added to their driving records.
Young drivers and insurance premiums
Drivers over the age of 18 can make and receive phone calls and avoid fines and the penalty points introduced by AB 47 by using hands-free devices. Drivers under the age of 18 in California are not permitted to use handheld or hands-free electronic devices while their vehicles are in motion. While a single penalty point that is only added to driving records after a second offense may not seem like much of a deterrent, experts believe that the new law could make drivers think twice before engaging in potentially dangerous behavior. They say that a single point could be all that is needed to increase the cost of auto insurance or to trigger a suspension or revocation.
Hands-free devices may not be safer
The traffic laws in many states prohibit the use of handheld cellphones and allow drivers to use hands-free devices, but the results of recent studies suggest that this approach may not be making the roads any safer. In 2016, a team of researchers from Australia created a virtual driving environment and then observed how drivers responded to unexpected situations like a pedestrian stepping into the street while using handheld and hands-free cellphones. They discovered that cellphone use slowed driver reaction times by 40% regardless of the type of device.
Distracted driving lawsuits
Proving negligence in a car accident lawsuit can be challenging when the motorist who caused the crash may have been distracted. This is because distraction leaves no telltale clues and drivers are rarely ready to admit that they were not paying attention when they crashed. If you are injured in such an accident, an experienced personal injury attorney could seek to gather evidence of distraction by obtaining wireless service records or the electronic data that most modern vehicles store on black box-type devices.