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New Law Legalizes Hands-Free Communication While Driving

Under a new California law, drivers may engage in hands-free texting and email if they are using voice-operated technology.
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    January 09, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- New law legalizes hands-free communication while driving

It is no secret that Los Angeles residents spend a great deal of time on the highways. They may be happy to hear that a new law creates an exception to the ban on text-based communication. Under the exception, drivers may engage in hands-free texting and email if they are using voice-operated technology.

Details of the new law

California is the second state to legalize hands-free texting using voice-operated technology. Idaho was the first. Authors of the law, which takes effect on the first of January, say it allows California residents to communicate in a safe and responsible manner while driving.

Residents are likely to interpret this new law as allowing them to text and email freely using voice technology. However, the actual intent of the law is to allow in-dash navigation and messaging systems to operate in compliance with the current regulations.

The law is intentionally written in broad language by the drafters. Although smart phone voice-operated applications such as Siri were not exactly what the bill's drafters had in mind, the language used allows these applications to fit comfortably within the exception.

Representatives caution the bill is not intended as an endorsement of texting and driving. Hands-free communication is subject to the same laws and requirements as existing services that use voice control, such as On-Star. As long as the service is hands-free, it is legal when the law takes effect on the first of January.

Distracted driver accountability

Distracted driving is an increasingly serious problem. Distracted driving is any activity that takes a driver's attention away from the primary task of driving. A distracted driver who causes injury to another in an accident may still be held accountable even if no texting laws are broken.

In 2010, over 3000 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Additionally, distracted drivers were involved in over 400,000 crashes resulting in injuries. Overall, 18 percent of injury crashes in 2010 reported distracted driving as contributing to the crash.

The use of hands-free devices such as those allowed under California's new bill still result in cognitive distractions; drivers often miss visual and audio cues that normally assist in avoiding a crash.

Texting is the most serious distraction because it requires that several different cognitive tasks be performed at the same time. Sending or reading a text takes a driver's eyes off the road for 4.5 seconds, which is the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field blindfolded at 55 miles per hour.

An individual injured in a car accident involving a distracted driver may be entitled to compensation. An experienced California personal injury attorney can provide knowledge and guidance as well as assist with obtaining any available compensation.

Article provided by Law Offices of Elia J. Castranova
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