To send one text message while driving, the average person takes her or his eyes off of the road for five seconds. When driving at 55 mph, this is like driving the distance of a football field – blindfolded. Distracted driving, or driving while simultaneously engaging in another activity, can be deadly. While cell phone usage isn't the only example of distracted driving, it's the most prevalent.
Distracted Driving Examples
Every activity that diverts a driver's attention away from the primary responsibility of driving puts his or her life, passengers' lives and the lives of others on the road at stake. Opportunities for distraction are endless, but typically include the following:
- Using a cell phone for other purposes (e.g., applications, games, email, phone calls)
- Conversing with a passenger
- Applying makeup or fixing one's hair
- Watching movies
- Looking at maps or GPS systems
- Playing music on an mp3 player or radio
According to Distraction.gov, the U.S. government's official website on distracted driving, texting is the riskiest behavior because it requires concurrent use of one's hands, mind and eyes.
In 2014, over 3,000 individuals were killed and 431,000 were injured as a result of crashes caused by distracted driving. At any given second during daylight hours in the U.S., 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or other electronic devices while driving. In one survey, one-third of drivers admitted to texting while driving, and three-quarters said they saw other drivers texting.
In California in 2013, approximately 426,000 citations were given to drivers who violated cell phone regulations. Despite public education campaigns, a 2015 survey found that distracted driving had
increased 39 percent in California from the previous year.
California law bans all drivers from using handheld cell phones or devices while driving. Bus drivers and novice drivers under age 18 are also banned from using hands-free devices. Drivers of all ages are banned from texting while driving.
Liability and Damages in Distracted Driving Accidents
Distracted driving accident victims have the right to pursue damages via a personal injury claim against the driver. In such a case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent by showing that he or she had a duty to drive carefully, that he or she violated that obligation, and that the defendant's breach proximately caused the plaintiff's injuries.
In a personal injury suit for negligence, a plaintiff may attempt to recover damages for medical bills, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and property damage. Note that in California, even if the defendant is found to be entirely at fault, a plaintiff may not recover pain and suffering damages if he did not have proper automobile insurance at the time of the accident.
Do You Have a Case?
If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a distracted driving accident in Los Angeles or Orange County, call attorney Scott D. Hughes at (714) 423-6928 today to review your potential personal injury claims. He can evaluate the viability of your civil lawsuit and help you pursue compensation.
Article 2, Damages for Wrongs—California Civil Code Section 3333.4, Onecle, 16 February 2015.
California's Distracted Drivers More Common This Year, State Says, Andrew McGall, Mercury News, 15 July 2015.
California Negligence Laws, FindLaw, Thomson Reuters.
California Highway Safety Laws, Governors Highway Safety Association, June 2016.
Cell Phone Usage Rate and Distracted Driving Month Tickets Down, California Office of Traffic Safety, 28 May 2014.
Facts and Statistics, Distraction.gov, Official U.S. Government Website for Distracted Driving,