Capitol Alert

Bill forcing drivers’ hands off smartphones awaits Gov. Jerry Brown

Powerful message about texting while driving

Did you know that when you send or receive a text you take your eyes off the road for 5 seconds? At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field, blindfolded.
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Did you know that when you send or receive a text you take your eyes off the road for 5 seconds? At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field, blindfolded.

It could be the end of driving while scrolling in California thanks to a bill that cleared the Assembly on Tuesday and awaits consideration by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Assembly Bill 1785 by Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, would require drivers to mount their smartphones on their car’s windshield or dashboard and use them only for things that require the “motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger.”

“The whole point is to prevent distracted driving,” Quirk said on the Assembly floor.

Several members spoke about their personal experiences with deaths related to distracted driving and urged the bill’s passage. Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, however, said the bill was too “broad” in its attempt to prevent smartphone use.

“Anyone who says they’ve never done this, you’re in an extreme minority,” he said.

The Assembly passed the bill 45-16 on Tuesday after the Senate passed it last week with a 23-13 party-line vote.

Texting and calling while driving is already illegal in California – except with a hands-free device – but a court ruled that using other features, such as navigation apps, is not expressly forbidden under current law. Quirk’s bill would close that loophole and outlaw “holding and operating” a phone for any reason while behind the wheel.

There would be a $20 fine for the first offense and a $50 fine for subsequent violations.

Anshu Siripurapu: 916-321-1060, @AnshuSiripurapu

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