The Dangers of Texting While Driving
We are currently living in a fast-paced world where there are too many things constantly fighting for our attention. The stress of work, to-do lists at home, our desire to be healthy, trying to keep up with hobbies, or wanting to take time to relax all take up space in our minds. These distractions, whether physical or internal, can get in the way of focusing on important tasks including driving. When an activity takes your mind and/or eyes off the road, you are considered to be driving while distracted. One of the biggest distractions of our time are cell phones. Cell phone use of any kind while driving is considered a serious distraction, but texting while driving tops them all as the most dangerous activity that can distract a driver.
With the pressure to instantly respond the moment someone texts, emails, or messages you, it can be incredibly tempting to respond even while on the road. Texting requires so much of your attention, as you will have to look at your cell phone, decide how to respond, take your hands off the steering wheel to type, and then try to refocus on the road ahead. Multitasking to this degree is not a smart move as the chances of getting into a motor vehicle accident increase exponentially when texting while driving. The average amount of time it takes to look at your cell phone to read a message or respond to a text is about five seconds. If you are driving around 60 miles per hour, in those five seconds your vehicle will have traveled more than the length of a football field. Traveling that distance while looking down at your phone is a recipe for disaster. After responding, it takes an average of three seconds to return your focus to driving which means you have been distracted from the road long enough to cause an auto accident.
Texting while driving falls into all three categories of distractions:
- Visual: Looking away from the road and down at your cell phone is a visual distraction. You will be unable to see any changes in your surroundings even if you glance at your cell phone for just a quick moment.
- Manual: Taking your hands off the steering wheel to type on your cell phone is a manual distraction.
- Cognitive: When your mind is focused on the message you received and your response, your mental focus has moved away from driving and to your cell phone. This is a cognitive distraction and can significantly reduce the amount of time you have to react to changes in the road ahead.
Statistics show that distracted driving is one of the top causes of car accident fatalities in the United States. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 3,142 deaths directly caused by distracted driving in 2019, meaning approximately eight people died every day because of a distracted driver. Of the people who have died in accidents caused by distracted drivers, one in five were not even in a vehicle. This means that pedestrians, cyclists, and others were killed because of the reckless actions of a distracted driver. Those same statistics show that 15 percent of car accidents involving injuries were caused by distracted drivers. Too many roadway accidents are caused by drivers who make the bad decision to engage in texting while driving. Those wrecks leave victims seriously injured or killed all because someone needed to respond to a message. These crashes could have easily been avoided if drivers prioritized safety.
In California, many activities related to cell phone while driving use are legally banned. The laws also apply differently to different age groups. As of January 1, 2017, Section 23123.5 of the Vehicle Code provides:
- A driver cannot hold and operate a smartphone unless the device allows and is configured for voice-operated, hands-free functioning – and is being used solely for these purposes while driving.
- In addition, the driver can only operate the smartphone under certain conditions:
- The device is mounted to the vehicle’s windshield in similar fashion to a GPS unit or is affixed to the dashboard or center console and
- The driver is only required to single-swipe or click the smartphone to activate or deactivate its functions
Violation of these provisions have tiered consequences. A first offense may result in a $20 fine, with subsequent offenses resulting in $50 fines. This does not include the costs for an offender to hire an attorney and pay court fees. This legislation is intended to prevent drivers from not only talking and texting on their phones but to also stop drivers from posting on social media, looking through music playlists, taking photos and videos, and using other apps. The law applies to cell phones, smartphones, tablets, computers, pagers, and other two-way messaging technology. For younger drivers, a separate section of the Vehicle Code applies: Section 23124. Under this Section, a driver who is 17 or younger is prohibited from using any wireless communication device, regardless of whether it can be used hands-free.
Northern California Distracted Driving Accident Lawyers
Distracted drivers should not get away with harming others as a result of their bad choices. Thousands of people are injured or killed each year in car accidents caused by distracted driving. If you have been in a car accident that involved a distracted driver, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. Because the other driver was distracted, we will show that they were driving recklessly and being negligent in their care for others on the road. Our experienced team of California car accident injury attorneys will help guide you through this difficult time. Our legal team is here to fight for your rights. Contact us today for a free consultation.