Bicyclists not subject to cell phone hands-free law

Dear Street Smarts, Q: My husband and I debated about which ‘rules of the road’ apply to bicycles, since bicycles are considered vehicles. We saw a bicyclist wobbling down the road as he was using his cell phone. We thought that since automobile drivers are not to use cell phones, it makes sense that bicyclists should also refrain. Does the new law also apply to cyclists? Thanks for your response, Dianne Blocher, via email A: The law does not apply to pedal pushing cyclists, said Armando Botello, spokesman for the Department of Motor Vehicles. “The way the ‘hands free’ law — California Vehicle Code Sections 23123 and 23124 — is written, it is only applicable to motorized vehicles,” he said. The law states that “a person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.” Drivers under age 18 may not use a cell phone, hands free or not. Violating the law means a base fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. The section does not apply to people who use their cell phones for an emergency. Q: Who would I call to report a ‘make-up’ session going on in a car going 50 mph in the fast lane? I ended up behind two separate cars with the woman driver applying her make-up, doing her hair, going only 50 mph in the fast lane of northbound Highway 1, with no one in front of them and swerving back and forth across the lane. Calling 911 on the cell phone seems like over kill, as by the time the car would be stopped, there would be no way to prove what she was doing, except by the poor make-up job and the rearview mirror aimed right at themselves. Jessica Victorino, Aptos A: CHP Officer Sarah Jackson understands your dilemma but urges you to call it in. “Distracted driving is dangerous driving,” she said. Anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the roadway and places it anywhere else is potentially very hazardous, she added. If the distracted driver loses control of her vehicle, she could be involved in a very serious traffic collision that could injure herself or others. Dialing 911 is the right thing to do, she said. “A life could be saved,” she added. Rule of the week AAA has designated the week of Oct. 5-11 “Heads Up Driving Week. During this week, they challenge drivers to avoid driving while distracted, especially by using their cell phones to make calls and sent emails and texts. “Using a cell phone, text messaging or emailing are just some of many possible distractions that divert drivers’ attention,” said Matt Skryja, AAA spokesman. “Eating, talking with passengers, reading maps or the newspaper, writing, personal grooming, and looking at things outside the vehicle are among countless activities that could create a substantial crash risk.” To learn more about distracted driving, visit www.aaa.com/drivingtips.
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