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What Are the California Laws on Distracted Driving?

No Distracted Driving Sign, Red stop sign with words Distracted Driving and accident icon with sky background

Distracted driving is a serious issue that affects the safety of everyone on the road. In California, there are specific laws designed to prevent distracted driving and ensure that all drivers maintain their focus on the road. These laws can play a significant role in determining liability and fault after a crash, so it’s important to know about these laws for any personal injury claim in addition to complying with the law and avoiding a ticket. Read on for a discussion about California distracted driving laws, and contact Kistler Law Firm if you have been hurt by a distracted driver or other negligent driving in Palmdale.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving refers to any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving. This can include a wide range of behaviors, such as:

  • Texting or using a smartphone
  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Using a navigation system
  • Adjusting the radio or other controls
  • Personal grooming

These distractions can significantly impair a driver’s ability to react to road conditions, traffic signals, and the actions of other drivers, leading to accidents and injuries. Whether classified as visual distractions, manual distractions, cognitive distractions, or a combination, activities that pull one’s attention from the road or ability to control the vehicle can be dangerous and are generally going to be considered negligent behavior that makes the driver liable to accident victims in a crash.

The Duty to Drive Safely

In California, all drivers have a general duty to drive safely and attentively, with due regard for the safety of all persons using the road. This means that drivers must remain focused on the road, avoid distractions, and take reasonable precautions to prevent accidents. Failure to do so can result in liability for any accidents or injuries that occur as a result of their negligence.

California’s Texting and Handheld Cell Phone Laws

California has specific laws in place to address the issue of distracted driving, particularly when it comes to texting and the use of handheld cell phones:

  • Texting While Driving: California Vehicle Code Section 23123.5 prohibits all drivers from writing, sending, or reading text-based communications while driving, except when using voice-operated and hands-free devices.

  • Handheld Cell Phone Use: California Vehicle Code Section 23123 prohibits all drivers from using handheld wireless telephones while driving, except for making emergency calls to law enforcement, the fire department, or other emergency services. The law allows for the use of hands-free devices and voice-operated systems.

  • Under 18 Restrictions: Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using any wireless communication device while driving, even if it is hands-free, except in certain emergency situations.

Violating these laws can result in fines and, for repeat offenders, points on their driving record, which can lead to increased insurance premiums and even license suspension. A driver who is cited for violating one of these laws after a crash may find that citation being used against them in a civil claim for damages by the accident victim. A legal violation may provide the basis for a ruling the driver was negligent per se, without the injured victim having to provide other evidence of the driver’s negligence or fault.

Even without a citation, evidence of distracted driving can be used to hold a negligent driver accountable for the harm they caused. A skilled and experienced personal injury attorney can gather the evidence needed to support a finding that the distracted driver was negligent and responsible for the crash.

Contact the Kistler Law Firm for Help After a Palmdale Car Accident

If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, it’s important to seek legal assistance to protect your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve. At Kistler Law Firm, our experienced personal injury attorneys are dedicated to helping accident victims in Palmdale and throughout the Antelope Valley. Call us today at 661-206-6990 for a free consultation to discuss your case and learn how we can help you navigate the legal process.

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