On Monday, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that will make it illegal to use or even hold a smartphone while operating a motor vehicle in California. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2017 and is intended to reduce collisions and fatalities related to cellphone use while driving.
A press release from California District 20 Assemblyman Bill Quirk notes that handheld cellphone use was a factor in 12 fatal crashes in 2015. Also, the California Highway Patrol issued more than 13,000 citations last year for writing, sending or reading texts while driving and 78,000 citations for using a wireless phone while driving.
The press release also says that the California Department of Motor Vehicles reported more than 426,000 convictions in 2013 for violations of laws on using a cellphone and texting while driving.
Drivers who get caught violating the law will receive a $20 fine for the first offense and a $50 fine for the second offense.
The only permissible cellphone use under the new law will be single taps and swipes on a smartphone that is mounted on the vehicle’s dashboard or windshield. This exception allows California drivers to continue to use travel-related smartphone features like navigation and audio.
Retailers who sell car mounting devices advise drivers to mount their phones on the left side of the windshield instead of under the rearview mirror to avoid partially blocking their view.
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