California Transportation Commission Commissioner Lucy Dunn learned something new about the hands-free law last week. A Huntington Beach police officer let her go without a citation if she would post the lesson on her Facebook page where she has 1,300 friends.
The lesson, do not even cradle your phone in your hand to check if it's charging -- it's illegal and could get you a ticket. Dunn got out of the ticket in exchange for posting her experience.
"The only purpose that you can use your phone [for] while driving is for making a hands-free call," says California Highway Patrol Ofc. Mike Ferguson, who notes that most drivers appear to understand the spirit of the law, but might be fuzzy on the fine points. "We see it a lot on the freeway, people are driving and using their phones at the same time, and we do see it on the surface streets, too. Keep in mind, you can be ticketed there, even by the Highway Patrol."
The U.S. Department of Transportation calls distracted driving an epidemic. In 2010 there were more than 3,000 distracted driving fatalities nationwide and 416,000 injuries.
One important exception, according to the CHP -- you can use your phone to call in a real emergency situation.