Distracted Driving Accidents in California
Consequences Distracted Drivers Should Expect to Face in California
Distracted driving means driving while not completely focused on the crucial task of driving safely. Distracted driving encompasses seemingly harmless behaviors. But in the context of driving, the following behaviors are extremely dangerous:
- Talking or texting on your phone.
- Eating or drinking.
- Engaging in conversation with a passenger in your vehicle.
- Playing around with the stereo or navigation system.
It may seem hard to believe, but the potential for injuries, death, property damage, and skyrocketing medical costs is multiplied exponentially by doing something as harmless as responding to a simple text from a close friend.
If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident due to a distracted driver, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim against them for damages. At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our skilled car accident attorneys are available 24/7 to offer legal assistance. We will review your case to determine what necessary steps should be taken in order to get you the compensation you deserve.
Accidents and Injuries Caused by Distracted Drivers
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 3,000 deaths occur each year due to distracted driving. Below is a list of total deaths, from 2017 to 2020, that have been caused by distracted drivers.
- 3,142 deaths in 2020
- 3,119 deaths in 2019
- 2,628 deaths in 2018
- 3,003 deaths in 2017
The NHTSA also reported that 8.1 percent of fatal car accidents in 2020 were caused by distracted driving. This is a 0.7 percent increase compared to the total deaths in 2019.
Consequences of Distracted Driving
There are three primary types of distracted driving:
- Visual - not looking at the road or the vehicles around you.
- Manual - not keeping your hands on the wheel.
- Cognitive - not keeping your focus on the task of safe driving.
You cannot drive safely unless you’re completely focused on the task of driving. An example that proves this point is texting while driving, which is something that most drivers are guilty of doing.
On average, it takes about five seconds to send or read a text. That’s five seconds during which your eyes are not focused on the road. If you’re driving on the freeway at the very reasonable speed of 55 mph, that’s comparable to closing your eyes while driving across the entire length of a football field.
Using your cell phone while driving in the state of California is both dangerous and illegal. You cannot drive while holding a cell phone in your hand for any reason. You can only use your phone in a hands-free manner. Under no circumstances can you ever hold a phone in your hand while driving. It’s worth mentioning that all drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone for any reason.
Common examples of distracted driving:
- Smoking Related Activity - Smoking while driving is particularly risky as it means that for a few seconds both hands are no longer on the wheel. Some people are seasoned pros, but lighting a cigarette still takes time and attention away from focused driving. This distraction will reduce the time you have to react to sudden changes in traffic conditions or emergencies.
- Eating or Drinking - Eating in the car can be tempting, but reaching into that container to grab some fries means your attention is distracted from the road for a few seconds or more.
- Other Occupants in the Vehicle - One of the most common instances of distracted driving is talking with or looking at the other passengers in your car. Engaging in a particularly emotional or difficult conversation can only increase your level of distraction. There might be a crying child or an upset puppy in the backseat, but your focus must be on the road in front of you at all times.
- Looking at Something Outside the Car - We humans are notorious for our endless curiosity and short attention spans. Anytime we see something interesting by the side of the road we may feel curious enough to want to take a closer look. This is known as rubbernecking. Whether you’re taking your eyes off the road to stare at the aftermath of a car accident or to catch the attention of someone you think you may know, doing so will create an unnecessary distraction to your safe driving.
- Daydreaming - If you are thinking about what you’re going to eat for dinner or seeing your children after coming home from a long day of work, you’re distracting yourself from focusing on the road. Losing your concentration while driving on the road is dangerous. You will not be able to react in a timely manner if sudden changes in road conditions appear ahead of you.
How Does California AB 47 Affect Distracted Drivers?
California AB 47 went into effect on July 1, 2021. This law was primarily established to punish drivers who would use their cell phones while operating a vehicle. If a driver is caught performing such an action more than once within a 36-month period, they will be subject to serious repercussions, such as getting a point added to their driving record. If a driver continues to accumulate points within this three-year time frame, they can get their license revoked or suspended.
The objective of this law is to ensure that drivers do not allow their cell phones to distract them from having their focus directed towards the road. Not only will this help reduce the likelihood of having distracted drivers present on the road, but it will also protect other drivers and pedestrians from getting struck by them.
Contact Us to Find Out How We Can Help
If you have sustained injuries as a result of another driver’s distracted driving, you have the right to hold that driver responsible. A skilled car accident attorney at West Coast Trial Lawyers can help you recover compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
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