Distracted driving has become an issue for vehicle safety organizations throughout the United States. Although distracted driving has long been a cause of automobile accidents, the number of accidents due to distracted driving has increased because there are more vehicles on the road and more gadgets that can lead to distraction.
Distracted drivers who cause automobile accidents are negligent behind the wheel, and it is the sole responsibility of drivers to maintain complete focus on the road at all times. Life-threatening injuries can result from an accident caused by a distracted driver. Those who have been involved in an automobile accident due to the negligence of another driver should always contact a reputable attorney to ensure their rights are protected.
Drivers can become distracted through a wide range of activities or gadgets. However, there are three types of distraction that are caused while driving. When all three variations of distraction are present, it poses the greatest risk for an automobile accident. The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that the three types of distraction are manual, visual, or cognitive.
Manual distraction occurs when a driver removes one or both of his or her hands from the steering wheel for any given reason. Some examples of manual distraction may include eating, drinking, using a cellular phone, or routing the navigation on a GPS system.
Visual distraction takes place when a driver looks away from the road to focus on something else. Some examples of visual distraction include looking at a pedestrian or billboard, reading an email on a smartphone, or texting.
Cognitive distraction takes place when a driver’s mind isn’t focused on driving. Although many individuals daydream while they are driving, any variation of distraction must have some mental focus such as cognitive distraction.
Although many individuals often become bored while they are driving, California law requires that every driver is morally and legally responsible and always uses safe driving techniques.
Distracted Driving Laws
California residents must always adhere to safe driving practices, and there have been laws in place since 2006 to ensure drivers are safe behind the wheel.
California has a law in place that restricts drivers under the age of 18 to use any mobile device while they are driving. This law is an extension of a past provision that prohibits teenage drivers from using cellular phones.
Before April of 2013, drivers could hold their cellular phones for navigational purposes. However, drivers are currently not allowed to use a smartphone for navigational purposes when they are operating a vehicle.
Drivers who are over the age of 18 can use a cellular phone that has a hands-free device such as Bluetooth earphones. Legally, hands-free devices are the only way adults in California are able to use a cellular phone while operating a motor vehicle.
School Bus Drivers
Under no circumstances are school bus drivers permitted to use a hand-held or hands-free device while they are driving. Although other adult drivers are able to use a hands-free device, school bus drivers primary responsibility is to transport students in a safe manner.
Bans on Texting
Communicating with others via text messaging is extremely distracting to drivers. Although texting behind the wheel isn’t thought to be dangerous to some, it leads to every type of distraction. Texting requires individuals to take their hands off the steering wheel (manual), read a text message (visual), and respond to the message (cognitive). Because texting while driving is so dangerous, California law prohibits drivers from using any mobile device to text. In addition, the law also states that drivers are not allowed to use hands-free devices for text messaging.
If a driver is caught texting, he or she will face a $20.00 fine for the first offense and a $50.00 fine for subsequent offense.
Distracted Driving Automobile Accidents
Distracted driving can cause many types of automobile accidents because it prevents at-fault drivers from reacting appropriately to their surroundings. Here are some common types of distracted driving accidents:
- Head-on collision
- Accidents at intersections
- Pedestrian accidents
- Rear-end accidents
When drivers are distracted, accidents that could have been easily preventable can occur. According to the Center for Disease Control, about 9 individuals lose their lives and thousands are injured everyday due to distracted driving.
Today, nearly every driver on the road has a cellular phone, and there are many individuals who are not able to keep their phones put away while they are driving. There are companies, such as Apple, that have created a feature that automatically responds to text messages while an individual is driving. Here are some distractions that can cause accidents:
- Using an app on a smartphone
- Communicating with passengers
How an Experienced Legal Team can Help
Those who have been in an automobile accident, which was caused by a distracted driver, should contact a San Diego attorney immediately. Those who have been injured may be entitled to seek compensation for damages that were caused by the accident, and a superior San Diego legal team can help.