California Texting While Driving Laws and Statistics
“It will only take a second.”
“Mom wants to know where I am.”
“Work had a question.”
These are just a few of the various excuses people have used to rationalize texting while driving. They’re also thoughts people have had right before they cause a major car accident.
Texting while driving is illegal in the state of California, and for good reasons. Because drivers take their hands, eyes, and mind off the road when texting, it’s an especially risky form of distracted driving. According to Go Safely, California, a campaign from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), the average time your eyes are off the road while texting is five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that’s the equivalent of traveling the length of an entire football field blindfolded. Additionally, engaging in a visual-manual task like texting increases your risk of getting into a crash by three times.
Despite these alarming statistics, plenty of Californians still text and drive. In 2019, the most recent year for data, 57.9 percent of California drivers surveyed said they had been hit or nearly hit by a driver talking or texting on a mobile device.
California law prohibits motorists from using a cellphone or mobile device while driving unless they are in “hands free” mode. That includes writing or reading texts, and applies to anyone driving on California roadways, even if you don’t live in California. The only exceptions to this law are if you are driving on private property or making an emergency call to something like an ambulance.
According to California Vehicle Code, Section 23123, a violation of this law is punishable by a base fine of $20 for a first offense and by a fine of $50 for all subsequent infractions. That sounds like a small amount of money, but in reality, you will pay more — sometimes over $250 — once assessments are added.
Previously, drivers did not receive a point on their driving record for texting and driving, but that has changed as of July 1, 2021. A texting-while-driving violation can now result in one point to your record if the violation is within 36 months of a prior distracted driving offense. Points added to your record can increase rates or even result in your license being revoked.
All of these laws are aimed at avoiding crashes, injuries, and fatalities that happen because of texting while driving. No matter what excuse our brains may tell us in the moment, texting while driving is never safe, and the possible consequences of doing it can be devastating to more than just the driver’s life.
Daniel Rodriguez, founder and president of Rodriguez & Associates and Robert Rodriguez of the California Highway Patrol, created this message stressing the importance of keeping your eyes on the road and avoid being distracted while driving. “Help save a life. Eyes forward, look up and live.”
Rodriguez & Associates takes the laws around texting and driving very seriously. We are willing to fight for anyone negatively impacted by another driver’s negligence. If you have been injured in a car accident caused by texting and driving, you may be able to claim compensation for damages. Please reach out to us today to discuss your case and receive support by filling out our online form or calling (661) 323-1400.