As most Californians are aware, it is illegal in California to use handheld wireless phones and to text while driving. In regards to texting, this means you may not write, send, or read text messages, instant messages, or email. These laws apply to everyone driving in California, even non residents. The laws do not apply to passengers however as passengers are free to use their devices as they please. There are a few exceptions that allow for cell phone usage by a driver, including emergency calls to emergency service organizations and when one is operating a vehicle on private property.
Such laws have been implemented due to safety concerns as studies suggest that drivers who use cell phones while driving are more distracted, leading to more accidents. In the U.S. in 2012, 415 people were killed in crashes where at least one of the drivers involved was using a cell phone. There were also an estimated 28,000 injuries due to cell phone related crashes. Many experts feel these numbers are actually smaller than the actual numbers due to cell phone usage in crashes being underreported by authorities who investigate crashes. This is because as of now, there is no reliable method to accurately determine when cell phone usage was involved in crashes. Often times police must rely on drivers to admit to cell phone use and many drivers are not always willing to admit to cell phone usage.
A California study found that males accounted for more cell phone related injury crashes than females, and that 21 to 30 year old drivers accounted for the largest percentage of drivers involved in cell phone related injury crashes. This California study also found that drivers that reported using a cell phone at the time of injury crashes were more likely to be found at fault
If you receive a ticket for talking or texting on your cell phone while driving, your first offense will cost you $76 after all penalty assessments are added up. A second offense rises to $190. These amounts may appear insignificant to some, but the increased risk for loss of life that results from using a cell phone while driving cannot be ignored and is a real problem.