The state Assembly on Tuesday sent Governor Jerry Brown a measure that would expand the texting while driving ban to include other distracting smartphone uses.
Smartphone app use has increased since the ban on texting while driving was implemented in the state. The bill, would prohibit the use of a handheld device in a way that distracts from driving. The bill will also work to plug a loophole that has made it difficult for law enforcement to enforce existing laws. In 2014, the California Court of Appeal ruled that the existing ban only prohibits a driver from holding a phone while talking on it.
Nationwide, 46 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. No state bans all cell phone use and Distraction.gov has a tool to show you the current bans by state.
According to the National Safety Council, deaths increased 8 percent last year in 2015, the largest year over year increase in a half-century. For the first six months of 2016, traffic fatalities were up 9 percent. The increase has been attributed to a recovery economy, but also to distracted driving. It’s very hard to enforce smartphone use in a car, Ken Kolosh, manager of statistics for the Safety Council said, “the use of phones to the ear is decreasing somewhat, but drivers are more and more likely to do texting and social media and other apps. That is even more dangerous.”