According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, distracted driving behaviors like texting or talking on the phone can triple your risk of being involved in a crash. Yet far too many people admit to using handheld electronic devices while driving, and thousands of innocent lives are lost every year in distracted driving accidents.
Were you hit by an inattentive driver in Los Angeles? California law allows accident victims to seek compensation for their injuries and other personal losses when someone else is at fault. Come tell your story to the distracted driving lawyers at Custodio & Dubey LLP. We’ll fight aggressively for the justice you’re owed.
Your best chance of success comes from getting started right away. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.
Most Common Examples of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving occurs any time drivers engage in any activity behind the wheel that pulls their attention away from the task of safe driving.
Common examples of distracted driving include:
- Talking on the phone (with or without hands-free controls)
- Programming navigation devices (GPS)
- Adjusting the radio or climate controls
- Personal grooming/applying makeup
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reaching down to retrieve dropped items
- Turning around to assist backseat passengers
Why Is Driving While Distracted Dangerous?
When we drive, we are responsible for operating multi-ton steel machines at high speeds. But because driving is such a part of everyday life, it’s easy to overlook how dangerous it can be.
To drive safely, drivers must maintain constant awareness of several key elements, including:
- The speed and acceleration of their vehicles
- Following and stopping distances
- Vehicle turn, brake, and hazard signals
- Steering and staying within designated lanes
- Neighboring vehicles
- Pedestrians, cyclists, and other obstacles on the road
- Images in rear and side-view mirrors
- Blind spots
- Speed limits
- Traffic signs and signals
- Navigation and street signs
It’s important to recognize the complexity of the task of safe driving because neuroscientists say the human brain is essentially incapable of multitasking. When we try to do two or more things at once or switch back and forth rapidly between two tasks, our ability to perform either task competently is severely compromised.
This means that distractions divide our attention in a way that makes it nearly impossible to drive safely while distracted. In fact, studies have shown that driving while attempting to complete additional tasks leads to poorer driving performance.
Can You Get Pulled Over for Eating While Driving?
Eating behind the wheel is a common form of distracted driving that many people view as an innocent part of their everyday commutes. However, even though sipping a morning coffee on your way to work has never caused you any trouble before, one accidental spill could be enough to cause a devastating accident.
- Manual: Takes your hands off the steering wheel
- Visual: Pulls your eyes from the road
- Cognitive: Distracts your mind from the task of driving
Eating qualifies as distracted driving, as it will require you to take at least one hand off the wheel to take a bite. That means that if a police officer sees you eating while driving, he or she has the authority to stop under the distracted driving law — especially if it is impairing your ability to operate the vehicle safely.
Distracted Driving Accident Statistics
The following statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and ConsumerReports.org point to the dangers associated with driving while distracted:
- Approximately eight people are killed every day as a result of distracted driving crashes in the United States.
- More than 2,800 people were killed and 400,000 more were injured in crashes that involved distracted drivers in a single recent year.
- About 20 percent of the people who died in distracted driving crashes were non-vehicle occupants, such as pedestrians or bicyclists.
- 25 percent of distracted drivers in fatal distracted driving crashes were young adults aged 20 to 29. Drivers under the age of 20 were even more likely to be distracted behind the wheel.
- A survey of licensed drivers in the U.S. who own smartphones revealed:
- 52 percent of drivers admitted to engaging in distracted driving activities.
- 41 percent of drivers use their hands to send texts while driving.
- 37 percent of drivers use their hands to play music on their phones.
- 20 percent use their hands to access web browsers or read and respond to email messages.
- Eight percent watch videos on their phones while driving.
California Distracted Driving Laws
Cell phones are some of the most common culprits in distracted driving incidents, so the majority of distracted driving laws in California focus on cell phone use. California’s distracted driving laws say:
- All California drivers, regardless of age or experience, are prohibited from using handheld cell phones behind the wheel for texting or any other communication.
- Most drivers are permitted to use cell phones and other handheld wireless devices while driving as long as they are in voice-operated, hands-free modes.
- Handheld device restrictions do not apply to drivers who adjust mounted GPS devices or manufacturer-installed vehicle systems with a single tap or swipe.
- Drivers under the age of 18 are completely prohibited from using any wireless devices while driving, even if the devices are in hands-free mode, unless making calls for emergency purposes.
- School bus and transit bus drivers are prohibited from using wireless phones while driving except for work or emergency purposes.
- Cell phone and distracted driving violations are considered “primary offenses,” which means that police officers can pull drivers over if they spot a violation.
- Penalties for distracted driving offenses include $20 base fines for first-time violations and $50 base fines for subsequent offenses.
- Distracted driving is currently a zero-point offense, but as of July 1, 2021, any drivers who incur a distracted driving violation within 36 months of a prior violation will receive one point on their license.
How to Prove the Other Driver Was Texting
If you were involved in a California accident with a driver who was texting, you will need to prove that the other driver’s negligence was the direct cause of the crash to recover compensation for your losses. With the help of an experienced car accident attorney, you can gather the following types of evidence to demonstrate that the driver was texting while driving:
- Police accident reports, which may contain statements from police officers who witnessed or suspected cell phone use
- Cell phone records from the other driver, which could show text messages, web browser activity, or phone conversations at the time of the crash
- Photographs or video footage from the scene of the accident, which could show photo or video evidence of a driver using the phone while driving
- Statements from the driver, other vehicle occupants, or witnesses who saw or suspected handheld cell phone use
- Expert testimony from accident reconstruction specialists
Collecting the evidence needed for a successful distracted driving claim can be difficult for a private individual to obtain. For example, you can’t just call the other driver’s mobile provider and ask for their records. However, an attorney can subpoena those records, which may show whether the driver was texting or answered a phone call without a hands-free device.
How Can Custodio & Dubey LLP Help Me?
Nearly 60 percent of California drivers say they have been hit or nearly hit by someone who was on the phone or texting while driving. If you were injured in a crash, trust the Los Angeles distracted driving lawyers at Custodio & Dubey LLP to handle your claim efficiently, effectively, and with the utmost empathy.
The process starts with a free consultation. You’ll talk with an experienced attorney who can review your claim and discuss your options for compensation. Then we’ll get to work on investigating the claim and demanding maximum compensation from the insurance company of the at-fault driver. Because you are always our top priority, we’ll also make sure that you get the best medical care possible for your injuries.
You can count on Custodio & Dubey LLP to fight aggressively for every dollar you deserve. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.