As per the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, distracted driving consists of "any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving." In the context of electronics, these activities might include:

Using a smartphone or cellular phone
Texting
Using a navigational device


The three distractions
Driving a motor vehicle requires visual, manual and cognitive functions that become diminished as soon as a driver touches a cellular device. Visual distractions occur when you take your eyes off of the road. A manual distraction occurs when one or both of your hands are off of the steering wheel. A cognitive distraction occurs when your brain isn't targeted on what you're doing. When a driver is looking at a mobile device, all of those cognitive functions are significantly diminished.
Drive a football field blindfolded
The Virginia Tech Traffic Institute reports that five seconds is the average time that your eyes are off of the road while texting. At a speed of 55 mph, that's sufficient time to travel the length of a football field blindfolded. That's also sufficient time to place everybody around you on or off of the road in danger of severe injuries or death. That's old news though. It's just texting. Now we have smartphones.
Smartphones
State Farm Insurance reports that more than 80 percent of all adults own smartphones. The biggest increase of smartphone ownership has been with adults 40 and older. With the popularity of smartphones comes increased risk. Drivers will not only have conversations while driving, but they can also read and answer texts and emails.
The old law
Up until 2017, it was against the law for a motorist to use a cell phone to read, write or text while a vehicle was being operated on a roadway. The law allowed hands-free use of a cellular phone, but it wasn't specific as to how somebody would go about doing so.
What is Assembly Bill 1785 and the new law?
AB 1785 became California law on January 1, 2017. The intent of the new law is to enhance public safety through limiting the use of mobile devices when a person is operating a motor vehicle on a public highway. Drivers are prohibited from holding a mobile device for any reason while they're operating a motor vehicle, regardless of whether it's in hands-free mode or not. The mobile device has to be mounted to the vehicle's dashboard or windshield outside of ...


New California law expands restrictions on use of cell phones behind the wheel

On Monday, Sept. 26, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill prohibiting a de facto pastime among the state's drivers -- a practice that a fraction of those motorists no longer have the capacity to abandon.

California Assembly Bill (AB) 1785 significantly expands restrictions on the use of cell phones behind the wheel, prohibiting drivers from holding and operating their phones for any reason. It allows drivers to activate their devices' functions through a single swipe or tap, but the phone must be mounted on the car's dashboard or windshield.

The new law also prohibits other uses of cell phones while driving, including the examination of maps, the adjustment of playlists, taking of photographs and streaming of video. It does not apply to factory-installed devices already in the vehicle.

It also does not apply to emergency service vehicle operators using such devices in performance of their duties. School and transit bus operators, however, are liable under the current law.

The bill, which takes effect Jan. 1, was written by Hayward Democrat Bill Quirk, whose Assembly passed it August 23 following a series of amendments in 2016. The state Senate approved it days earlier.

“This bill," Quirk said in a statement following the governor's action, "targets the deadliest cause of distracted driving-related crashes, the use of an electronic device while driving. The accidents, injuries and deaths associated with this form of distracted driving are completely preventable. I am proud that Governor Brown has agreed that it is time that we update our archaic laws on the issue and do our part to make sure drivers are focused on the road."

The bill cites research from the University of Utah that found that using a cell phone, even hands free, delays a driver's reactions to the same degree as having a blood alcohol concentration of .08, California's legal limit. Similarly, it says, a Carnegie Mellon University study found that driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent.

"The distracting effect of cell phones," the bill asserts, "is not limited to the fact that drivers look away from the road to use them."

It's already illegal for California drivers to text or call from behind the wheel without a hands-free device, but the current bill fails to address advances in technology, such as transmission and ...


According to the Highway Patrol, there have been 861 traffic deaths in Missouri in 2015, with almost 100 of these deaths correlated to driver inattention that includes cell phone usage. 357 accidents were specifically caused by texting and driving.

Missouri is one of the four states left without a ban on texting for all drivers. In 2009, state of Missouri senators, David Pearce and Jill Schupp banned texting and driving for novice drivers who are 21 years and younger. Drivers under the age of 22 who get caught texting while operating a vehicle in Missouri will be forced to pay a $200 fine.

In the last few weeks, measures that include the Senate Bill 569, Senate Bill 821, and House Bill 1671 have been discussed among Missouri lawmakers. Some of the changes proposed in these bills would involve increased penalties for texting and driving and an extension of the current law, banning texting and driving to individuals of all ages. If this law passes, it will be illegal for any driver in the state of Missouri to send or read a text message unless the device is equipped with technology that allows for voice recognition hands-free texting and is being used in the appropriate manner.

Currently, 46 states and the District of Columbia have banned text messaging for drivers of all ages. Texas and Missouri are the two states that only implemented this law for novice drivers while Montana and Arizona do not currently have bans against texting and driving.

Senator David Pearce explains that the legislation to ban texting for all Missouri drivers is a common sense law that’s been a top priority of his for quite some time. He explains that it is far too common for people to make jokes about having a fear of missing out because of not reading or responding to a text message. Pearce states that no text message is crucial enough to risk missing out on the rest of life or even worse, causing someone else’s life to end.

Texting and driving is a serious issue that can lead to severe injuries and fatalities. It will be interesting to see whether or not Missouri joins the other states in implementing this no texting law for all drivers.

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