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California drivers: New law brings new meaning to hands-free

Distracted driving accidents continue to put the lives of motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and every other person on the road in jeopardy. Despite numerous legislative efforts, distracted drivers continue to use their phone and get distracted, whether they realize they are breaking the law or not.

In order to strengthen the message that using a handheld phone while driving is dangerous, California police will now be enforcing laws that prohibit even holding a phone in your hand while driving. The measure is attempting to keep drivers from using a phone to click around, swipe and otherwise navigate the features on their phone, all of which have been proven to be distracting behaviors.

Beginning on Jan. 1, California drivers will be fined for using a phone that is not mounted to the dashboard or windshield of their vehicles. Further, fines can be handed out for "excessive swiping," which is essentially using a phone for anything other than to unlock the screen or answer a call. The law limits the use of a phone to one single click or swipe -- even when the device is properly mounted.

As strict as these measures may seem, they are intended to decrease the number of people getting hurt or killed because of a driver who is distracted by his or her phone. By limiting use to mounted devices and single keystrokes, lawmakers hope to dissuade users from being cognitively and physically distracted by their phones, while also allowing them to utilize tools like navigation.

Hopefully, the threat of fines will be enough to prompt many drivers to just put their phone away completely. But unfortunately, there are some negligent parties who will choose to engage in distracted driving regardless of the potential consequences.

In the event that you or someone you love is injured by one of these reckless parties, you must understand that you have rights and can hold that party accountable for damages suffered as a result of the distracted driving.

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