California's newest traffic laws go into effect on January 1st, 2017, and those that use their smartphone while driving will want to invest in a phone mount or a car mount. This is because one of the new laws that goes into effect essentially says that drivers cannot hold their phone while driving. It must be mounted. The whole reasoning behind this law is to keep drivers focused on the road in front of them and not on their smartphone, which is a leading cause of accidents in the US. This is part of the Assembly Bill 1785, and the bill states that the user can only use their phone if the function can be carried out with a single swipe or tap. The thinking here is that a single swipe or tap is much less distracting than having to go through a slew of actions and menus.
This is a change to the existing policy that was in effect in California, where anyone driving a vehicle cannot use a wireless device to write, send or read a text-based communication. They could only write, read or send text messages through voice commands, like what Google provides in Android Auto. This actually makes the policy a bit more strict, and it's a good thing.
It's pretty dangerous to be using a smartphone while you're driving anyways. In fact, in 2015 about 2.5 million people were involved in accidents, in the US alone. And about 1.6 million of those people were in accidents due to someone being distracted by their smartphone. That's roughly 64% of accidents in the US alone. And of those 1.6 million people, 421,000 people die in a smartphone-related crash. That's a pretty big number, and it's something that lawmakers are looking to change.
What this means for drivers in California is that you'll need to pick up a car mount for your smartphone. They are pretty cheap, some of them costing under $10 from Amazon. But it allows you to be less distracted, but still use your smartphone for things like navigation, media, sending/receiving texts, etc. Currently this law is only in effect in California, but if this does help reduce the number of accidents and deaths on California's roads and highways, we could see it come to more States and even other countries.