Distracted driving in California is on the rise; and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), eight people in the U.S. are killed every day in car accidents caused by distracted drivers.
What exactly is distracted driving? Distracted driving occurs when the driver of a vehicle does any type of activity that takes his or her attention away from driving. When their attention is taken away from driving their vehicle, the chance of causing a motor vehicle crash increases significantly. If you are the victim of a car crash caused by a distracted driver, call Curtis Legal Group today to fight for your rights and fair compensation.
Types of Distracted Driving
The CDC has identified three types of distractions that can take drivers’ attention away from operating their vehicles – manual distractions, visual distractions, and cognitive distractions. A manual distraction is anything that causes a driver to physically take their hands off the steering wheel. A visual distraction takes the driver’s eyes away from the road. A cognitive distraction takes the driver’s mind off the task of driving, leaving them on “autopilot.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) lists the following as common driver distractions:
- Talking on the phone, even if using a hands-free device
- Talking to people in the vehicle
- Adjusting the stereo system
- Programming a GPS device
- Eating and drinking
- Grooming activities, including brushing hair, putting on makeup, etc.
- Reaching behind or across a seat for an item
- Trying to manage misbehaving children
Texting is the most dangerous form of driving distracted. Texting or reading an email or message on a cell phone involves all three types of distractions – manual, visual, and cognitive. This makes it especially risky – and the cause of many deadly car crashes.
Distracted driving injures approximately 400,000 and kills nearly 3,000 people every year. While all age groups have been found to participate in some form of distracted driving, it is especially prevalent amongst teens and young adult drivers. Studies have shown teenagers spend approximately 25 percent of their driving time engaged in distracting behavior. This could include checking social media, texting, watching YouTube, and more. These dangerous behaviors are not only illegal, they also put everyone else on or near California’s roads at risk for injury.
California’s Distracted Driving Laws
In California, there are many laws related to distracted driving. It is illegal to use your cell phone with your hands while driving in California. Adults are only legally able to use a cell phone or messaging device in a hands-free manner through Bluetooth technology, using voice commands, or via speakerphone. Drivers under the age of 18 are completely prohibited from using a cell phone for any reason while driving. The California Office of Traffic Safety launched multiple public awareness and educational campaigns to inform California drivers of the dangers and legal consequences associated with cell phone use while driving. Other serious distractions included in those campaigns were eating, reading, grooming, and talking with passengers – all of which can result in a “reckless driving” or “speed unsafe for conditions” ticket. There is only one situation in which an adult can physically use their phone while driving – to make an emergency phone call.
If a driver is caught using their phone while driving, the base fine they will be charged is $20 for a first offense and a $50 fine for each subsequent offense. These fines do not include any additional fees and assessments; so, while $20 or $50 may not seem like a lot, the actual dollar amount may be much higher. That driver will also be expected to appear in court; and, if they do not show up, they can be jailed and/or fined.
Accidents Caused by Distracted Drivers
In some car accidents, it can be difficult to prove who is at fault for causing the crash. If the collision involved a distracted driver violating a statute or ordinance – like using their cell phone while driving – it becomes a case of negligence per se, in which that driver is presumed negligent because they were breaking the law at the time the accident occurred.
If you have been involved in a car crash caused by a distracted driver, you are entitled to fair and appropriate compensation for your injuries. Hiring an experienced California personal injury attorney will be critical to navigating this difficult time. Proving the driver who caused the accident was driving while distracted can be challenging, but our legal team is here to fight for your rights.
Northern California Car Accident Lawyers
We know the time following a car crash is difficult for victims and families. Our priorities are making sure you fully recover from your injuries and holding the people responsible for your accident accountable. Our attorneys will help you recover financial damages for hospital bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you or a loved one were injured or killed by a distracted driver, you deserve justice. You can trust Curtis Legal Group to handle your case so you can focus on recovery. Under California law, there is limited time to make a claim, so contact us today!