A new law that went into effect in California on January 1 aims to keep drivers’ eyes on the road by keeping their hands off their smartphones.
Assembly Bill 1785, passed last September, takes the hands-free law to the next level. Drivers may no longer hold devices in their hands while driving, not even at stoplights.
To be used legally, wireless handhelds must be attached to the windshield, dashboard, or center console “in a manner that does not hinder the driver’s view of the road,” according to the new law. The only permissible actions are a single swipe or tap. Wireless conversations must continue to be done in hands-free mode.
Drivers found to be in violation of the new law may receive a base fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense.
To comply with the new regulations, drivers have many wireless accessory choices on the market. Most of the products are designed for the windshield or the air vents.
A windshield mount must be affixed to the lower-left corner of your windshield and “outside of an airbag deployment zone…while the motor vehicle is being operated,” as stated in Assembly Bill 1785.
Suction cups are almost always required for the windshield mount, which may not be the best option come summer and that strong So Cal sun. If a vehicle spends a large amount time in sunlight, a vent magnet may prove to be a more reliable solution.
For a vent mount, a thin magnet is placed onto the back of a phone, which attaches to one of several vent magnet mounts available for sale—including the mophie charge force Vent Mount, available at the Apple Store in Fashion Island for $59.99. A variety of cell phone mounts are also available on Amazon.com.
The Newport Beach Traffic Division anticipates an increase in tickets with the new law, in large part because the new restrictions make cell phone violations much more enforceable, says Newport Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Manzella. She says the law isn’t just about phones. “It’s about being focused on the task at hand, which is driving.”
“Eating, talking to other passengers, messing with the radio controls… so many distractions are legal, but that doesn’t make them less dangerous if they draw your focus. NBPD wants to remind everyone to keeping their eyes – and their mind – on the road,” said Manzella.