Bill to Update Distracted Driving Law is Signed into Law

Monday, September 26, 2016

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Bill (AB) 1785, a bill to update the rules of the road relating to the use of electronic devices while operating a vehicle, was signed into law by Governor Brown today.

“Technology has improved so rapidly, and our cell phones are more capable of much more than just calls and text messages. Smartphones have an abundance of available features that demand a driver’s attention, leading to very dangerous driving behavior. However, such activities are not clearly prohibited by law,” Assemblymember Quirk, the author of AB 1785, stated.

The effect of cell phone use on a driver’s attention is well-documented and is not limited to taking a driver’s eyes off the road to make a call or send a text message. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reported over 426,000 handheld cell phone and texting convictions from jurisdictions statewide in 2013.  In 2015, there were 12 fatal collisions involving handheld cellphone use as an inattention factor, over 500 injury collisions, and nearly 700 property damage collisions.  That same year, California Highway Patrol (CHP) alone issued over 13,000 citations for violating the ban on writing, sending, or reading text-based communications while driving, and 78,000 citations for using a wireless telephone while driving.

“This bill 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. This bill will save lives,” Assemblymember Quirk stated upon learning his bill was signed into law.