A new year introduces new laws to California’s books, and local law enforcement officials are keen on spreading awareness about a pair of driving-related mandates in particular: one pertaining to child safety seats and one pertaining to mobile device use.
The passage of Assembly Bill 53 means children under 2 years of age must ride in a rear-facing car seat unless they weigh 40 pounds or more or are 40 inches or taller. Existing California law requires everyone within a motor vehicle to wear some form of safety restraint, and passengers under 8 years old must be secured in an appropriate backseat restraint system.
Assembly Bill 1785 tightens restrictions on mobile device use while driving to ban activities beyond just texting and talking. It is now illegal to use a mobile device while driving unless the device is used through voice-operated and hands-free functionality or if features are accessed with a single swipe or touch. This means holding that smartphone while cruising is not allowed.
“There was kind of an exemption before that if you were navigating, you got a free pass,” said Capt. Scott McCrossin of the Los Altos Police Department.
Violations are $20 for the first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense.
Mobile device use while driving is an ever-growing problem, and it’s a consistent factor in collisions, McCrossin said.
The police department will concentrate its public education efforts in April, Distracted Driving Awareness Month.