Every time a person gets behind the wheel, they have a duty to drive safely and responsibly. But each year in the United States, motor vehicle accidents account for tens of thousands of fatalities on our roadways.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,142 Americans lost lives in 2019 due to distracted driving. That’s more than 8 fatalities per day.
Cell phone use is increasingly a factor in driving fatalities in the United States. Because of this, distracted driving, specifically from cell phone use, has quickly become a serious public health concern.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted Driving occurs when a driver engages in any activity that diverts their attention away from driving. There are essentially three ways in which a driver can become distracted and thereby impair their ability to drive safely. These include:
1. Visual Distractions
These occur when a driver takes their eyes off the road, for example, when:
• Entering a GPS address;
• Making vehicle adjustments;
• Placing a call;
• Reading a text; or
• Turning to check on children in the backseat
2. Cognitive Distractions
Activities that take a driver’s mind off of driving. This can occur for example when the driver is:
• Focusing their attention on answering an incoming call;
• Frustrated as a result of an unpleasant call or text, or
• Simply daydreaming.
Cognitive distractions are the reason why hands-free devices are not substantially safer than handheld devices.
3. Manual Distractions
Result in a driver not being in complete control of the vehicle. For example, when the driver:
• Takes their hands off of the wheel to find their phone; or
• Is eating a sandwich, texting, or plugging in a power adapter.
What makes it so dangerous to use a cellphone while driving, especially for texting, is that it combines all three of these types of distractions into a single action. Studies have shown that writing or reading a text message takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. If they are going 55 mph, that is similar to a driver traveling the length of a football field with their eyes shut.
Whenever a driver uses a cell phone, for any reason, it slows their reaction time down to that of a person having a blood alcohol level at the drunk driving threshold of 0.08%. This explains why texting while driving renders a driver 2300% more likely to have an accident.
Distracted Driving Laws in California
Drivers in California are prohibited from using handheld cell phones or other handheld devices while driving. This applies at red lights and stop signs as well. What’s more, drivers under the age of 18 are banned from using any such device in a handheld or hands-free manner.
Violation of California’s distracted driving law can result in the following consequences for the offending driver:
• Heavy fines and assessments;
• Points against their driver’s license;
• The possibility of having to attend traffic school; and
• Increased insurance rates
In addition, a distracted driver can be held financially liable for injuries and losses suffered by anyone they cause to be injured.
Compensation For Accidents Caused by Distracted Driving
When a person is behind the wheel, they have both a moral and legal responsibility to reduce the potential of them causing harm to others. They are expected to keep their attention on the road in front of them and the other drivers and pedestrians around them.
Depending on the circumstances involved, whether you were a driver, passenger, or pedestrian involved in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you may have the right to recover substantial compensation for your injuries and losses. Juries do not look favorably upon defendants who were using a cellphone while driving or doing other things besides paying attention to the road.
While not all forms of distracted driving are against the law, those that are not can still be used as evidence of negligence, and sometimes gross negligence, in a personal injury claim for fair compensation for any resulting injuries or financial damages you suffered. However, these claims have strict time limits (statutes of limitations) that must be strictly adhered to, or else the claim can be rendered moot and time-barred forever.
This is why it is extremely important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible after you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver. The right attorney can ensure that the distracted driver who injured you is held accountable for their negligent and reckless behavior.
Contact an Experienced California Car Accident Lawyer
If you or someone you care about has been injured by a distracted driver in California, call eAccidents today @ 844-400-0123 to schedule a free consultation with one of our expert California car accident attorneys. We charge no fee unless we recover compensation on your behalf.