Drivers in California will soon be banned from using their cell phones while driving unless they use a headset or a speaker. The new legislation, signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday, will not take effect until July 1, 2008 to allow to time to educate the public.
First time violators will be fined $20 and then $50 for each violation after that. The new law makes exceptions for emergency phone calls.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA), nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event. Primary causes of driver inattention are distracting activities, such as cell phone use, and drowsiness. A 2005 study released by the NHTSA showed that hand-held cell hone usage increase by 20% from 2004 to 2005.
The most common distraction for drivers is the use of cell phones. However, the number of crashes and near-crashes attributable to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening. Dialing is more dangerous but occurs less often than talking or listening.
Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia each have enacted a jurisdiction-wide ban on driving while talking on a handheld cellular phone.
About the Author: Carl H. Starrett II has been a licensed attorney since 1993 and is a member in good standing with the California State Bar and the San Diego County Bar Association. Mr. Starrett practices in the areas of bankruptcy, business litigation, construction, corporate planning and debt collection.