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Governor Expands Hands-Free Driving Laws in California

Californians will soon face broader restrictions on using their smartphones while driving.

When the first cellphone use restrictions while driving passed in 2006, mobile phones were far less sophisticated than they are today. Today, in addition to calling and texting, taking photos and streaming videos just to name a few distracting activities have become mainstream. But not for long.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last month to expand existing laws that ban people from calling and texting while driving on California roads unless they have hands-free devices. The legislation signed in September broadens the laws to include other distracting activities drivers often perform on their phones.
The new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2017, will prohibit people from using a mobile phone while driving unless the device is in a hands-free mode. While the measure forbids drivers from holding and operating their devices for any reason, it does include an exception for functions that require only “the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger,” as long as the phone is mounted on the windshield or dashboard of the car.

In addition to texting and calling, the new law aims to prohibit other cellphone uses while driving. That includes changing your playlist, taking photos, streaming video or checking directions on your smartphone.
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