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Defining and eliminating distracted driving in California

Many drivers in California are probably aware of the campaigns aimed to reduce cell phone use while driving. The state actually defines the behavior as anything that could take a motorist's eyes off the road. That includes texting, talking on the phone, eating, programming a GPS, reading maps or grooming.

According to Distraction.gov, California has embraced several laws in order to avoid fatal automobile accidents, including the following:

  • There is a handheld cellphone ban for all drivers.
  • Bus drivers and novice drivers cannot use handheld or hands-free technology for cell phones.
  • Texting while driving is illegal for all drivers.

Violating these laws can result in a ticket of $159, and that may be the best-case scenario. The California Office of Traffic Safety reports that as many as 6,000 people are killed across the country every year in a fatal car crash that involves distracted driving. Studies have shown that texting alone can mean a driver's eyes are taken off the road for an average of five seconds, which is long enough to travel the distance of a football field.

The Office of Traffic Safety recommends that drivers turn off their phones when they are in the car and make a promise with family to never use a phone when kids are in the vehicle. The office also states that motorists should try not to get too involved with other passengers, as reaching for items in the back seat or checking on a child can mean losing focus on the road.

Distraction.gov reports that drivers under the age of 20 make up the largest percentage of drivers who are distracted at the time of an incident. It is imperative to teach children to avoid the behavior, and leading by example is a good place to start.

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