Talking on a cell phone and texting while driving are dangerous activities and despite advertisements and education, many forget these actions are punishable as traffic violations.
All California traffic laws apply while driving on March Air Reserve Base, including those relating to cell phone use. Speaking and texting on a handheld cell phone device, while driving is strictly prohibited in California. It does not matter, if at the red light on Cactus Ave., or at a stop sign on base, these laws are applicable when operating a motor vehicle on public property. Most recently, a California court ruled that using a cell phone to check a map on a global positioning system program is also illegal under these laws, unless it is hands-free, mounted on the vehicle dashboard.
The fine for using a cell phone while driving, first offense, will cost a total of $76 – the second offense is $190. However, if involved in an accident while using a cell phone, the driver can be found guilty of reckless driving, which carries a much higher penalty.
A separate law prohibiting texting while driving went into effect in 2009. Violation of this law is punishable by an initial fine of $20. All subsequent offenses receive a $50 fine. This law, known as the “texting ban” law, did not only ban texting, it is also codified cell phones as “Electronic Wireless Communications Device: Prohibited Use.” It prohibits sending emails or browsing the internet while driving. Unknown to most, it is a violation to use this device if in a parking space with the engine running.
“If you take into account the possible impact on your driving record and insurance costs, the total monetary cost can be significant,” said Maj. Deric Prescott, March ARB active duty Staff Judge Advocate. “No matter how important you think that text or call might be, you need to seriously think about the severe consequences that come from driving while distracted.”
In 2012, the University of California at Berkeley released a study claiming that deaths blamed on drivers using handheld cell phones HAVE decreased 47% since 2008, the year the state legislature passed the law banning handheld devices.
Permissible hand-free use of cell phones includes utilizing a speakerphone function, using a wired headset, or using a Bluetooth wireless device.
Individuals operating an authorized emergency vehicle are allowed to use a handheld device. Novice drivers, those under the age of 18, are prohibited from any cell phone use while in the vehicle. However, keep in mind that use of a handheld cell phone is always justified when making an emergency call.
Please don’t text and drive and save the surfing for the beach.