With so much focus on texting and driving, what about cases of drivers taking photos? Is it safe? Is it even legal? Have you ever done it? While each state lives by its own rules, most states have outlawed texting and driving but what about other ways you can use your cell phone? A perfect example of how this can be a slippery slope is in California.
The state of California bars all use of a cellphone for communication, i.e. talking and texting, while behind the wheel. However, you can use your cellphone to check a map or snap a pic of a passing motorist. Well sort of. Because the law is tricky. The minute your cell phone becomes a distraction, the minute it causes you to take your eyes off the road, run a red light, or not see that pedestrian crossing the road, what you’re doing with your cellphone is illegal.
Here’s how you should be taking photos while driving
If driving and taking photos is your hobby, you might want to come up with a new one. Per the National Safety Council, “cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. Nearly 330,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving. 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving.”
Superior Court Judge Larry Ornell of California said driving is “the most dangerous thing we do and most of us take it for granted. If you’re not looking at the road, then you’re most likely traveling at an unsafe speed. People who sit at the green light and make others honk their horns are interfering with the flow of traffic and breaking the law.”
Since taking a photo while driving is just as distracting as texting or eating a taco, it is best NOT to take a photo while driving. It is better to pull over if you can, as long as you are not disrupting traffic, and snap a photo. Taking pictures at a red light should be just fine as well, as long as you are not still snapping when the light turns green. Also to assist you in finding the best route to take, find out what is a Sig Alert and how to plan travel around it.
The key is to use common sense. If you’re driving slowly down a rural road and you see a deer and there is no one else on the road, it could be safe to assume you can quickly snap a photo. On the other hand, fumbling with your phone to take a photo at seventy miles an hour on the interstate isn’t considered safe.
If you notice other people driving and taking photos, this is a good time to be a defensive driver. Keep a good distance from the distracted driver and resist the urge to take a picture of them taking a picture. One way to learn how to be a defensive driver in our ever-increasing world of distracted driving is through traffic school. Here, students learn such defensive driving skills as anticipating danger, such as that posed by distracted drivers. These courses are typically offered by government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private driving schools.
An incentive for taking this course is discounted insurance rates. Learning to be a responsible driver goes a long way with insurance companies who are willing to reward you for safe driving. Another incentive for traffic school is to get a traffic ticket dismissed. When you graduate, the ticket is forgiven and won’t affect your insurance rates. States that offer the most incentives include Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Texas.