As a motorist in California, it’s essential to beware of the local distracted driving legislation. This knowledge fosters road safety and promotes compliance with the law. A primary focus of these laws involves mitigating distractions involving cell phone usage while operating vehicles.
Being aware of California’s distracted driving laws is not only important for legal compliance but also for understanding your rights and options if you’re involved in a car accident caused by a distracted driver.
What Exactly is Distracted Driving?
Simply put, distracted driving is the act of operating a vehicle while simultaneously engaging in activities that break your concentration from the road.
This can take many different forms, such as checking your GPS, listening to music at high volumes, or texting or making phone calls on your cell phone. It can also include something as innocent as engaging in conversation with passengers or looking out the window at something interesting.
These behaviors significantly increase the chance of traffic accidents leading to injuries and sometimes fatalities.
California’s Distracted Driving Laws
In accordance with its commitment to road safety, California has enacted specific laws aimed at curbing distracted driving.
California law stipulates that any cell phone usage while driving must be done in a hands-free manner. That means functions like voice commands or the use of your speakerphone are permitted, but under no circumstance can you hold the device.
“A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.”
Drivers Under 18 Years Old
For drivers under the age of 18, California’s distracted driving laws prohibit cell phone use altogether while operating a vehicle, even if it’s hands-free. Younger drivers are inherently less experienced, and this law emphasizes the importance of keeping their attention solely on the road. This furthers traffic safety and diminishes potential accident risks.
No matter what your age is, if you have to make a phone call or send a text, you should always pull over before you do it.
Violation of Distracted Driving Laws
Breaking this law isn’t just risky for your safety and that of other road users. It could also lead to monetary fines. Violations are viewed as infractions, and the first offense is a fine of $20. After that, penalties are increased to a $50 fine per violation.
Other Risks of Distracted Driving
Monetary fines aren’t the only repercussions of distracted driving. When you lose focus on the road, accidents become more likely to occur. If your distraction results in damaging property, injuring another person, or worse yet – causing someone’s death – you could potentially face civil liability (or even criminal charges in some cases).
This means being responsible for paying damages to affected parties and potentially facing a personal injury lawsuit which could cost you a significant amount of money if your insurance company doesn’t cover it or your policy limit doesn’t cover all the damages.
Ultimately, it is critical that when you get behind the wheel, all distractions are put aside to ensure your safety and that of other road users.
If you have questions or need help after an accident caused by you or someone else, don’t hesitate to contact our Fresno distracted driving accident lawyer today to schedule a free consultation.