Open Road

New California Law is a Game Changer for Drivers



The year 2017 welcomed more than just a celebration. Announced on January 1, 2017, and effective immediately, a new California cell phone law passed, aiming to crack down on distractions while driving.

In short, the new law effectively makes it illegal to even touch your phone while driving. This law follows in the footsteps of other driving legislation—previously implemented in states like New York, New Jersey, and Illinois—and is designed to reduce distracted driving habits.

For drivers to avoid getting pulled over and facing pricey tickets, it’s important to understand the in’s and out’s of the law and how to keep yourself, and other drivers, safe.

What is the new driving law?

Previously in California, it has already been deemed illegal to operate your phone for texting or calling when driving. However, as smartphone technology has become increasingly sophisticated, more drivers have been using their phones for things such as playing music, GPS navigation, and surfing social media.

In theory, California’s new driving law eliminates the potential dangers by preventing you from touching your cell phone. The only way in which a driver can operate his or her phone is if it remains mounted on the dashboard or windshield. Even then, the phone must not obstruct the driver’s vision and can only be activated with a one finger tap or swipe.

Disobeying this new law will cost drivers just $20 for the first infraction and $50 for subsequent violations. In truth, the likelihood of this being a deterrent is slim.

Why was the law created?

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, 80 percent of vehicle crashes are because of driver inattention. Couple this with the fact that cell phone use remains the number one cause of distraction for drivers in California and it's clear how big a problem this is.

Source: Highway Statistics 2015 from Federal Highway Association

California also wears the crown for most licensed drivers (24mil+) by a landslide compared to the state with the second most licensed drivers (Texas, 15mil+). The risk associated with using your phone while driving, in conjunction with a densely populated driving population, is why lawmakers have had enough with dangerous cell phone habits.

According to a Google Consumer Survey carried out with Navdy, 28.6% of California drivers hold their phone while on the road.

Source: Google Consumer Survey

Based on this survey, we see that almost 30% of drivers were open about using their cell phone for a myriad of different functions while driving.

What is the sentiment around this new law?

With any law that aims to inhibit people from carrying out bad habits (however ingrained they may be at this point) comes a potential for backlash. In general, American drivers don’t like to see their perceived rights being infringed upon—regardless of the safety implications tied to these regulations.

When it comes to this new California law, the reactions across various social media networks was mostly positive.

However, while others embraced the law, some were concerned with how the police would enforce it.  

It seems as though this law has already caught on with the general public. According to our survey question, “Are you aware of the new California law that bans holding a cell phone while driving for any reason?," over 75% of respondents said that, yes, they were.

Source: Google Consumer Survey

How can drivers adapt to this new law?

While the law explicitly condones the use of a mounted phone, the fact that you may only use one finger or swipe will severely limit how you're able to interact with your device.

The problem is: increased legislation to prevent cell phone usage while driving is not having the desired effects. People simply can't help themselves, and a $20 penalty won't change that.

That's why we're so proud of our Navdy augmented driving device, enabling motorists to have more control over their phones than ever before. No other product on the market today blends your car's diagnostic information (speed, rpm, fuel mileage, and more) with the apps you use most on your smartphone—and does so in a way that eliminates the need to touch your phone. Navdy projects its information on a crystal clear display—directly in your line of sight—so you never miss a turn, text, email or notification again, all while focusing on the road ahead. It's the safer way to use your phone while driving.

Navdy Staff

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