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It's safer when drivers stop all cell phone use behind the wheel

Texting and driving are in the news all the time, and most people -- even if they keep doing it -- know the danger. What they might not know, however, is that it's really safer not to use a cell phone at all. That includes holding it and talking, talking on a speaker setting, and using it to figure out where you're going.

Yes, cell phones in cars are convenient. However, the reality is that they are serious distractions that take drivers' eyes off the road, and that causes accidents. It goes beyond texting.

In fact, California has taken steps to address this issue by passing new laws for 2017 that are very limiting. Drivers who use cell phones can only do so if they're swiping or tapping -- very quick motions that can be done without looking down -- and if the phone is mounted on the window or dash. Moreover, that mount can't block the driver's view.

Essentially, some experts have said that the law can be summed up as a provision against holding your phone at all. Drivers can't even do things like changing songs -- streaming music via Bluetooth is quite popular -- or using the GPS. If the phone is in a person's hand, it's off limits.

Hands-free laws may help because they keep drivers focused on the road, but drivers don't always follow these laws. They still chance it, hoping they can avoid mistakes and thinking an accident won't ever happen to them. When it does, if you're hurt as a result, you need to know your rights to compensation. This is true for minor injuries, as well, but especially for serious brain injuries, spine injuries, and other injuries that require intensive care.

Source: Decide to Drive, "Driving Tips," accessed Jan. 18, 2017

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