Jan 29

California Bans Handheld Cellphones While Driving, Who’s Next?



Soon, you will not see any California driver with a cellphone in their hand. That’s because a law banning the use of handheld cellular phones while operating a motor vehicle in California will take effect July 1, 2008.

Officially known as the California Wireless Telephone Automobile Safety Act of 2006, the new Golden State law mandates a base fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. However, California drivers will still be permitted to have a wireless conversation while driving if they use hands-free technology, such as a Bluetooth device.

However, some safety experts feel that switching from handheld to hands-free phones will not negate the inherent risk of driving while having a cell phone conversation. “It’s the intellectual distraction of the conversation itself that’s at fault,” said Mantill Williams, AAA’s national director of public affairs. Also, a 1997 study by the University of Toronto concluded that “the risk of collision when using a cellular phone was four times higher than the risk when the cellular phone was not being used.&quot.

Driver distraction, which includes cell phone use, is estimated to be responsible for a minimum of 25 percent of all motor vehicle accidents. But that estimate is quite low, according to AAA’s Williams.

As of 2005, 39 states had proposed some form of distracted-driver legislation, most with provisions concerning handheld phones. But things are heating up. Bills that completely ban cell phone usage while driving are pending in four states: Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Handheld bills are pending in Massachusetts, Michigan and Ohio.

While most experts in the field remain uncertain about the proliferation of such legislation across the nation, all stand united on one view: The new California law — and bills similar to it — falls far short of dealing with the true nature of the problem. Fairley Mahlum, communications director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, stated, “A hands-free law does not solve the problem. Our research shows that it is not just the physical distraction of the cell phone, but the mental distraction. A hands-free law only addresses the physical.&quot.

In Florida, many car accidents occur because the at-fault driver was simply not paying attention. Whether it is because they were holding a cellphone to talk or text a message or on a telephone call using a hands-free phone, the carelessness of the person–not the phone–caused the accident. It is important that everyone in Florida be careful while driving the busy roads of Florida. Failure to do so can result in traumatic effects on a person and their family.

As a lawyer, I admit that I use my cellphone while driving. Fortunately, I have a hands-free device that permits me to keep both hands on the wheel. However, it is just as important to keep both eyes on the road and your brain on what is going on around you. Sometimes, an important telephone call may take your mind off the road. If that is the case, I tell you and me to pull over and finish the telephone conference before you put your life and all those around you in jeopardy.

If you have been involved in a car accident in Florida because the other driver wasn’t paying attention, you should consult with an attorney who handles these types of cases. Attorney Matthew Noyes’ law firm has been fighting for the rights of those injured in car accidents for over 52 years. To Contact Attorney Matthew to Discuss Your Florida Car Accident, Simply Click Here.

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