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New law designed to curtail distracted driving in California

It is a frustrating, but all too common sight; a driver tooling down the road using a cell phone to talk or text while seemingly oblivious to the conditions of the road. Such behavior is extremely dangerous. In 2016, it is estimated drivers using cell phones were responsible for around 300,000 traffic accidents on California roads.

But starting at the beginning of this year, a new law went into effect that aims to shrink that number and make the roads safer. Now, it is illegal for a driver to hold a phone for any reason, be it for texting, talking, navigating or listening.

Penalties for being caught with a phone in your hand while driving start at $20 for a first offense and then $50 for subsequent charges. And drivers are still allowed to use their phones in a hands-free manner with a Bluetooth device, dashboard mount or other means.

So while the new law is a step in the right direction, it remains to be seen whether it will make the roads that much safer. After all, the threat of a $20 or even a $50 fine may not be enough to deter drivers from reaching for that phone when they receive a call or a text. And sadly, it seems safe to assume that there will be plenty of accidents caused by distracted driving in the foreseeable future.

A serious automobile accident could leave you or someone in your family in need of hospitalization and long-term care. And if the accident was caused by a distracted or otherwise reckless driver, he or she should be held accountable. A personal injury attorney could help you decide how you want to pursue appropriate compensation, either by filing a civil suit or working with insurance companies.

Source: NBC Bay Area, "New State Law: If You're Driving, Do Not Pick Up That Phone," Mark Matthews, Stephen Ellison, Jan. 2, 2017

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