Monday, March 25, 2013

Proposed Calif. Assembly Bill to Ban Hands-free Texting While Driving

hands free texting to prevent personal injury in los angeles

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It is already a common knowledge among California motorists that using cell phones while driving is prohibited on the state’s roadways. According to current state laws, only adult drivers aged 18 or older are only allowed to use cell phones equipped with hands-free devices. Those under age 18 are, of course, prohibited from using such wireless devices, with or without the hands-free devices.

Similarly, every California driver knows that text messaging is not allowed as well. It is explicitly stated in the current state law that drivers are prohibited to “write, send, or read a text-based communication” using such devices as mobile phones. However, hands-free devices, as well as those equipped with voice-controlled technology, are allowed.

Such provision was first legalized in California last year, wherein the Assembly Bill 1536 was signed into law and amended section 23123.5 of the California Vehicle Code. But then, the exemption was seen as a detriment to the cause of addressing the issue of distracted driving. This is the reason why first-year Assemblyman Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) introduced Assembly Bill 313.

Basically, this proposed bill would delete the current exemption for voice-controlled texting devices, making it illegal while driving. According to the proposition, “there is no difference in the crash risk of hand-held or voice-operated devices.” It further added that “no study has determined that texting while driving is safe.”

Additionally, the Assemblyman’s office released a statement from Richard Harkness, a traffic safety expert. He said that the provision of allowing texting with the use of voice control and/or hands-free devices was “one of the most dangerous traffic laws I have seen in my lifetime,” referring to the AB 1536.

Aside from the Assembly Bill 313, another bill was introduced, this time in the State Senate. The Senate Bill 194, which was drafted by another first-year legislator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton), would ban all wireless communication devices to the current cell phone ban for teen drivers.

For many legal experts, including Los Angeles personal injury attorneys, these proposed bills would be the next big step to finally eliminate, if not totally eradicate, the incidents of distracted driving in the State of California.


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