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Distracted driving is not all about texting

Highway auto accidents are no stranger to Orange County, California. People need to be alert and focused on operating a vehicle, and this fact has likely never been clearer than the present.

As reported in the Orange County Register, law enforcement may not immediately know the cause of an accident, particularly in a one-car collision with a tree. Sometimes, distracted driving is a cause of a one-car collision, although not necessarily so.

Going beyond texting

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, taking your mind, hands or eyes off the road can amount to dangerous inattentive driving. A new law, AB 1785, prohibits the holding of a cellphone while driving. However, it does not prohibit the following:

  • Using voice commands to use cellphone
  • Tapping the cellphone to start a function
  • Single swiping the cellphone to activate or deactivate a feature

Even hands-free can still be dangerously distracting

The fact that unfocused driving is extremely risky is demonstrated by recent statistics, including the following:

  • Last year, more than half of vehicle operators surveyed said they had been involved in a collision or nearly so by an operator using a cell phone
  • Texting while on a 55 mph highway causes that person to be unable to observe the roadway for the length of a football field
  • Over one-third of California drivers agree they have erred in driving while talking on phone

The point is clear: texting while driving is now an illegal activity. However, many other distracting activities remain technically legal without a law expressly prohibiting them.

Even though the law does not specifically prohibit certain uses of a cellphone while driving, or other activities causing distraction, such as eating, law enforcement does have possible remedies to cut down on such activities. If the police officer sees anything she or he reasonably believes perilously distracts the driver, the officer may ticket the driver under other laws, such as vehicle section VC 22350, which prohibits driving faster than prudent under road conditions.