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Updates to California distracted driving law look promising

In 2006, California legislators passed legislation that was supposed to decrease the number of distracted driving accidents in the state by prohibiting people from using wireless telephones while operating a vehicle. Unfortunately, despite its best efforts, the bill has done little to discourage drivers from using cellphones behind the wheel. Furthermore, an unforeseen loophole has also made it difficult for police to enforce the law and hold drivers accountable for their negligence.

This could all change down the road, however, thanks to suggested updates to Assembly Bill 1785, which aim to repeal the existing law concerning cellphone use behind the wheel with a new, updated version that takes into account everything a person could possibly do with a cellphone while driving that could cause them to become distracted.

The catalyst for change

Not surprising to some, the push to change our state's existing distracted driving law comes on the heels of the Pokemon Go craze that has swept the nation. In a post earlier this month, we pointed out that some users are choosing to play the game while driving, even though such a behavior is incredibly dangerous. As a result, the lives of other drivers and pedestrians are now at serious risk of injury or even death, which is a concern the AB 1785 updates hope to address.

New law, new prohibitions

One of the major flaws with our state's existing distracted driving law is the fact that its language seems limited to texting and driving. The wording in the AB 1785 updates, however, is broader in scope and would prohibit a driver from using any feature on a cellphone or electronic device that does not have hands-free or voice-operated functionality.

The bill would also, "give law enforcement additional tools to promote driver safety," which could effectively close the existing loophole in our law that is currently creating challenges for police throughout the state.

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