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Your car and your smartphone: What's legal, what's not

Texting While Driving
Texting While Driving
Photo by Phillip LeConte via Flickr Creative Commons

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L.A. sheriff's officials said Sunday that they were looking into reports that cell phone use was a factor in the fatal car crash involving Olympic gold medalist and reality TV star Bruce Jenner on Saturday.

In the aftermath of that accident and many others like it, we decided to look into what drivers can and can't do on their  smartphones by California law.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than nine people are killed and more than 1,153 are injured every day due to "distracted driving," defined as driving while doing another activity. Those activities include using a cell phone and navigation system while behind the wheel. 

It's not yet certain whether cell phone use was a factor in Saturday's fatal four-car collision. And for many, the rules around using a cell phone while driving aren't always clear.

What’s allowed? What’s not? And how has the hands-free law fared since its implementation?

See our FAQ on the subject here


Kevin Tao, Public Information Officer with CHP Southern Division

Jeff Spring, spokesman with the Auto Club of Southern California, which has been researching driver behavior over the past 10 years since cell phone and texting bans have gone into effect