According to research conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation, an estimated 660,000 Americans are using cell phones or adjusting electronic devices while driving. This distraction is partly responsible for an increase of automobile accidents, and for an alarming number of casualties. In 2012 alone, 3,328 people died in crashes that involved a distracted driver, and approximately 421,000 were injured.
Distracted driving is one of the biggest hazards drivers, passengers, other motorists and innocent bystanders face in the U.S., and cell phones and other electronic devices — from GPS systems to DVD players — play a major role in diverting attention from the road. Drivers may also be distracted due to carrying on conversations with passengers, reading maps or trying to combine their commute with mealtime.
Younger drivers are especially susceptible to both the allure of texting and the distraction of other devices. 20 percent of teenagers report regularly engaging in text-message conversations while driving, and 10 percent of teenage drivers involved in fatal wrecks are distracted at the time of the accident.
Although the best defense against distraction begins with drivers themselves, the state of California provides some powerful deterrents. California’s Vehicle Code prohibits all drivers from using cell phones while operating their vehicles, prohibits drivers under 18 from using hands-free cell phones while driving and outlaws texting while driving. The fine for using a cell phone is $76 for a first offense and $190 for a second; for texting, the fine is $20 for a first offense and $50 for each additional. On the bright side, although phone-related offenses go on your driving record, they do not count toward California’s point system.
There are some exceptions to California law that allow for calls to law enforcement, medical service providers and other vital services in the event of an emergency, as well as calls made by authorized emergency vehicle operators and anyone operating a vehicle on private property.
If you’ve been injured in an accident due to the negligence of a distracted driver, consult the knowledgeable personal injury attorneys at Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire in San Diego.