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Study: Sharp increase in cellphone use among California drivers

Even though many laws already exist in California prohibiting the use of cellphones while behind the wheel, many drivers in the Golden State don't appear to be getting the message.

In fact, a study recently released by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) found an astonishing 39 percent increase in the percentage of California drivers observed using their cellphones while driving.

Specifically, the researchers involved in the study observed that 9.2 percent of motorists were using their cellphones while driving a motor vehicle - an increase from only 6.6 percent in 2014. This upward trend is particularly disturbing given the many safety campaigns and laws aimed at reducing the car accidents caused by distracted driving on California roadways.

What is the law in California when it comes to cellphone use while driving?

Under California law, drivers are expressly prohibited from talking on their cellphones unless they are using them in hands-free mode. In addition, texting while driving is also banned, although a similar hands-free exception exists if the driver can dictate, send or listen to text messages using only voice commands. However, if the driver is under 18, he or she cannot use a cellphone to text or talk while behind the wheel, even if it is hands-free.

Sadly, distracted driving fatalities continue to occur despite the many anti-texting and cellphone laws already on the books in many states. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 3,000 people were killed last year in accidents involving distracted drivers - meaning there is much more to be done to curb this growing epidemic.

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