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“Mr. Driver; put down that phone!”

Remember President Reagan’s famous words in Berlin calling for the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” to open up the barriers which divided East and West Berlin since 1961? Well, today’s blog title is modeled after those famous words, as California drivers have apparently been told as of January 1, 2017, to put down their phones.

Starting on the first day of 2017, drivers in California are no longer permitted to hold their cell phones in their hands for any reason, including using any of their apps on a smart phone, or for their music lists. The new law forbids holding your cell phone in your hand period, without exception. This will also make it easier for law enforcement to bust those who do not follow the law.

The bill, called “Quirk’s bill, AB 1785, forbids the use of a hand held device while driving, and only can be used if you can do so hands-free. This would assume some type of voice activated operation. The phone must also be visibly mounted on the dashboard, windshield or console.

The new law is intended to prevent drivers from holding their cell phones for whatever purpose they may have, such as checking and posting on social media, or scrolling through music lists on stations such as Spotify or Pandora. A study last year done by the California Department of Public Traffic Safety determined that one out of eight drivers on the road is paying as much attention to their cell phone as they are to driving while on the road. California state officials have estimated that some form of distracted driving is a factor in nearly eighty percent of all crashes in the state.

The California law allows cell phones to be mounted in two spots on the windshield, either a seven inch square in the lower corner of the windshield on the passenger side, or a five inch square i the lower corner of the windshield to the driver’s left.

I have written numerous blogs at this web site about distracted driving, inattentive driving and driving while under the influence. You know that until cars become self-autonomous and self driving, the laws nationwide are going to clamp down on the use of smart phones while operating a motor vehicle. Wisconsin has made it illegal to use a cell phone while in a construction zone. Why not follow the California lead and make it illegal to use your smart phone at any time while operating the vehicle, unless it is through the car’s blue tooth voice activated system only? Would you be in support of such a law in our state or do you think the current restrictions about making it illegal to text while driving and not being able to use your cell phone in construction zones goes far enough?

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