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California Continues to Address Distracted Driving

Distracted driving continues to be a serious issue in the country. California’s Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) reports that 80 percent of car crashes involve some form of distracted driving. Moreover, texting and driving is the primary reason for inattentive driving. It does not help that this practice, according to, takes a person’s eyes off the task of driving for approximately five seconds. This is long enough to travel the entire length of a football field at approximately 55 mph.

To address this issue in the age of cellphones and other technology, many states, including California, have taken aggressive legislative efforts to help combat this problem. California’s law currently mandates the following:

  • All drivers are prohibited from using cellphones. However, motorists may use hands-free devices.
  • All motorists cannot text while driving. No driver may compose, transmit or read a text-based message. However, drivers may utilize a hands-free and voice controlled texting device, providing they do not touch their phones.
  • No drivers under the age of 18 can use wireless cellphones while driving – with or without hands-free assistance.
  • School bus and transit bus operators may not use cellphones while driving.

Since the prohibitions have been implemented, studies show a 33 percent drop in the number of California motorists holding cellphones to their ears, according to OTS. Moreover, the number of motorists using a cellphone declined from 10.8 percent in 2012 to approximately 7.4 percent in 2013. While safety advocates are happy to see a decrease in recent numbers, they are working for more reform. For example, some lawmakers are aiming to remove the hand-free exception to texting and driving.

Only time will reveal the future legal mandates, which aim to address distracted driving practices. While texting and driving seems to be the most problematic issue, other habits can compromise one’s attention behind the wheel. Motorists should avoid the following practices while operating a vehicle:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Conversing with passengers in the car
  • Putting on makeup (or other grooming habits)
  • Reading maps or watching a navigation system
  • Adjusting the radio or other music player

These habits can divert one’s attention from the task of driving and create the risk of a car accident.

Unfortunately, distracted driving accidents happen all too often. For example, in June 2013, a woman was riding her bike to work when a delivery truck and a dump truck collided at an intersection in San Jose. The catastrophe caused the delivery truck to topple on its side and crush the cyclist, which resulted in the woman’s death. The family of a victim in this horrific accident has recently filed suit against two truck drivers and their employers. The suit alleges that the motorists were distracted by their cellphones before the fatal crash. If the motorists were at fault, the plaintiffs may recover in this legal action.

If you or a family member has been harmed in an accident that you believe was caused by inattentive driving, you should contact an experienced personal injury law attorney in your area. A lawyer can investigate your accident and help explore your potential options for legal recovery.

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