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Court Rules California Drivers Cannot Check Smartphones

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

Many drivers in California use their cellphones while driving despite how dangerous it can be. Using a cellphone while driving increases the chance of being in a car accident, and many drivers still admit to doing this dangerous behavior behind the wheel.

A recent court ruling in California may soon change how many drivers use their cellphone. The court ruled that drivers are prohibited from using cellphones unless they are voice operated or offer a hands-free operation. Drivers who still use their cellphone without voice activation or a hands-free device can face charges.

The court based their ruling on the California law that states that drivers should focus on driving and not be distracted behind the wheel. The ruling will impact how drivers can use their cellphones. If their phone does not have voice activation or a hands-free device, they are prohibited from using their cellphones behind the wheel.

In addition to drivers not being able to use their cellphones, the court ruling also prohibits drivers from using map applications or GPS devices while traveling. Mounting a cellphone or GPS device on the windshield is also prohibited by this court ruling.

Safety advocates say that cellphone use behind the wheel is a significant safety issue in California and leads to many car accidents in the state. Many cellphone companies already offer voice activated programs or hands-free devices, however, not many drivers take advantage of using these devices.

While many phones, like the iPhone, offer voice activation for using a cellphone while driving, critics of the current programs say that the commands are limited and drivers have to memorize many of the commands for the program to work.

Apple said that they want their voice operation to recognize natural speech in the future but they are still working on updating their technology.

Source: Pentagon Post, "California Drivers with Smartphones beware!" Steve Parker, May 20, 2013