This year commercial drivers in California will be forced t put down their handheld devices so they can better concentrate on their driving.

This is good news for anyone who already practices defensive driving.

The new law went into effect January 1, 2012, and is expected to impact nearly 4 million commercial drivers in the state, preventing them from texting or using their cell phone while driving. This includes bus and truck drivers as well as cabbies and other commercial vehicle operators.

This new law comes on the heels of a recommendation by the National transportation Safety Board last month calling for every state to ban drivers from using any and all handheld devices. According to the NTSB, distracted driving brought about by the increased use of handheld devices by drivers, either texting or talking, is the single most dangerous mistake made on highways around the country.The NTSB is suggesting states ban the use of handheld devices by all drivers except emergency workers, during an emergency.

Already several states and cities have similar bans, some more or less severe.

Another new safe driving related law in California that begins this year requires children be secured in a car seat until they are either 8-years-old or taller than 4 feet 9 inches tall. This is an increase of two years in age and a minimum weight of 60 pounds under the previous laws. Drivers who ignore this new law face a fine of at least $475 per offense, though it is unclear to us why any driver would violate the law and risk the life of a child just as a matter of convenience.

Distracted driving has been a contributing cause of fatal traffic accidents in almost all cases, and the number has been growing as the use of cell phones and other portable handheld communication devices have been increasing. The ultimate effect on the handheld devices ban will take time to track, but in places where a ban has already been enacted, the rate of distracted driving crashes has shown a marked decline.

California traffic school is a great place to learn about the severe consequences of distracted driving, including the loss of your license or even your life or freedom. But why wait until it’s too late? Put down the phone and drive, and increase your chance of getting to your destination safe and sound.