In 2009, texting while driving became illegal in California. Makes perfect sense when you think about it, since making or receiving phone calls when driving became illegal just one year earlier but did not address the distraction of texting.
Hardly a day goes by, however, that we don’t read about at least one serious vehicle crash that resulted from a driver’s use of – and distraction by – a cell phone. Just like speeding or pausing for a stop sign rather than making a complete stop, drivers treat traffic laws like a buffet from which you can pick the laws you like and pass the rest.
Unfortunately, distracted driving has become such a serious problem that most states now have laws against drivers using their phones when driving. In an interesting turn of events, California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill making texting while driving legal as of January 1, 2013. Legal, that is, providing you do it in a very specific way. That is what’s bound to create confusion among motorists.
Under the new law, you may text while driving only if the entire process is done hands-free using voice-activated devices. In other words, most cell phones that have a voice texting feature, including the iPhone 4S with ‘Siri,’ would not qualify because drivers must push one or more buttons on the phone to activate that function on the phone. In order to comply with the law, the entire texting operation must be voice-activated and hands-free.
While some newer phones may use the technology required to comply with the law, most current smart phones do not. This leads to a couple of potential problems. First, many people may not fully understand the new law and will celebrate the new year by returning to texting while driving, whether through their keypad or holding the phone to voice text. For drivers that do comply with the new law, voice-activated devices may also contribute to distraction because voice recognition isn’t always spot-on and you may have to repeat words or phrases repeatedly to be understood.
Even if done legally, talking and texting when driving creates a dangerous distraction. The act of sending or receiving a message or engaging in conversation takes one’s attention away from driving. To learn more about the dangers of distracted driving and how you can become a safe driver, visit our website to view our many courses!