For the past few years, much has been made regarding the dangers of using cellphones while driving in California. However, not all of the news surrounding this subject is bad. In fact, a new study has given people in San Jose and elsewhere in California a cause for celebration. California's ban on using cellphones while driving is preventing car accidents-less people are getting injured, and the law is saving lives.
During the four years since the law was first passed, traffic fatalities have decreased by 22 percent according to the study, with a stunning decrease of 47 percent in deaths where the responsible driver was using a hand-held cellphone. Other studies about the California law confirm the downward trend between the ban and car crash-related deaths.
One study in particular analyzed deaths both two years before and two years after the ban, showing that overall a significant drop occurred in motor vehicle-related deaths and injuries, as a result of the ban. A survey conducted by the state in 2011 noted that of those responding, 40 percent admitted that since the ban went into effect, they talk less on their phones when behind the wheel.
Distracted driving laws like California's are important safety measures because of the higher likelihood of accidents due to distractions and the serious harm that can be inflicted by a 1,500-pound vehicle. California's law bans the use of handheld cellphones while driving. The law requires that the only way cellphones can be used in a vehicle is to use the cellphone's speakerphone (thus eliminating the need to hold the phone), using a Bluetooth wireless device, using a wired headset or installing a car kit that allows for the phone to be used through the car's internal audio system. These options, however, are not available for drivers under the age of 18.
The law imposes a base penalty of $20 for the first violation, though after all fees are accounted for, this increases to $159.
In light of these studies, the cost has worked to decrease distracted drivers, prevent injury and save lives.
Source: The Huffington Post, "California Cellphone Ban Reduced Traffic Related Deaths, Injuries, Berkeley Study Finds," 3/5/12.
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