Most Best Western road warriors travel by car instead of by plane – be it in their own vehicles or in rental cars. And no doubt, many of those are driving around the great state of California, likely the largest rental car market in the country. If that sounds like you, then you need to pay attention to a new California law that went into effect on January 1.
Texting while driving has been illegal in California since 2009, but now the state is expanding the law even further. The new law, titled AB 1785, forbids drivers from even holding a mobile phone or other electronic wireless communications device in their hand while behind the wheel.
This means that if you want to use your phone for anything while driving, it must be mounted to the windshield or affixed to the dashboard or center console. Be careful about placement because if your phone blocks your view or interferes with the deployment of an airbag then you’re in violation of the law.
So if you don’t already have one, it’s time to buy a fixed mount for your phone. These cost about $20 and attach via adhesive or suction cup to the dash or windshield. Here’s some good advice on buying fixed mounts. Most important: When you travel to California, be sure to pack the fixed mount with you!
The Australian state of New South Wales has had a similar law in effect since 2013. So if you are wondering the best place to place your fixed mount, here’s a helpful video with instructions.
If your device is securely placed and doesn’t interfere with your view or the airbag, then you’re free to use it by tapping or swiping with your finger. Just make sure you don’t pick it up because with this new law, there are no legally valid reasons for you to be holding your phone.
Fines for violating the new law range from $20 to $50.