Fighting for Victims of Driver Inattention – California Distracted Driver Attorneys
Distracted driving is both one of the leading causes of California car accidents and one of the most avoidable. While most people would not hesitate in agreeing that one should not “multi-task” while operating a dangerous weapon like a firearm, some people fail to recognize that a motor vehicle moving sixty miles per hour poses a comparable danger to others. Nonetheless, distracted driving behavior is not only something that many California drivers practice but often constitutes a habitual practice that is engaged in without a second thought. While cell phone related driving distractions like texting or talking have been the subject of increasing scrutiny, these are only a small sub-section of driver distractions that can cause horrific California distracted driver accidents.
When you are injured in a collision involving a distracted driver, you may have a right to pursue legal action to obtain compensation for your medical expenses, lost income (past & future), pain and suffering, vehicle damage, diminished quality of life and mental anguish. Depending on the specific circumstances of your California car accident case, you may also be entitled to burial/funeral costs for a loved one who dies or punitive damages from a driver that is engaged in extremely outrageous conduct that exhibits a conscious disregard for the safety of others.
Leading Causes of Driver Inattention Resulting in California Auto Accidents
There are many forms of distracted driving that may lead to potentially fatal California auto accidents including:
- Eating and drinking
- Grooming, putting on makeup, brushing one’s hair
- Reaching and grabbing for objects in the vehicle
- Talking to passengers in the car
- Listening to the radio
- Reading a newspaper or an e-book on a Kindle
- Adjusting or looking at a GPS device
- Reviewing a map or written directions
- Watching a movie on a dash installed DVD player
- Adjusting the air conditioning or heat
- Driving when upset or preoccupied
- Rubbernecking at accidents
- Surfing the internet on a portable electronic device like a iPad or tablet computer
- Using a smart phone for any of its many uses
The list of possible driver distractions that may cause an accident is virtually endless, but this list provides some common examples. Most people will be able to identify at least a few sources of driver inattention that apply to their own driving practices. While many people may assume that cell phones pose the greatest danger, some recent studies suggest that eating or drinking while driving is actually the most significant form of driver distraction. Despite its potential to cause serious injury or wrongful death, eating and drinking when driving is almost second nature for many drivers as evidenced by fountain drink dispensers in gas stations and fast food drive thru windows. Some food places will even wrap the food special so that you can “eat it in the car” (i.e. while driving).
Despite a growing body of evidence that distracted driving may cause more collisions and traffic related fatalities than drunk driving, the attitude of most drivers is far more accepting toward engaging in multi-tasking while driving than to DUI/DWI. This more permissive attitude means that the number of drivers that engage in this unsafe driving practice is higher and those that do drive while distracted tend to do so on a more frequent basis.
Understanding the Multiple Dimensions of Driver Distractions
Driver distraction can take three forms: (1) mental distractions, (2) visual distractions and (3) manual distractions. A mental distraction can impair a driver’s ability to recognize and identify hazards, slow decision-making and reaction time and compromise judgment. Virtually every form of driver distraction impacts a driver on the mental distraction level. Anything that makes the driver divert some concentration to another activity such as carrying on a conversation, reading an email or reviewing directions constitute mental distractions for the driver.
Visual distractions are activities that cause drivers to divert their eyes from the road. Even glancing away for a few moments is enough to cause a driver to lose valuable reaction time needed to steer or brake to avoid a collision. It also is common for drivers to drift into another lane when their eyes are diverted from the road. Many drivers presume that it is safe to glance at a cell phone screen or newspaper as long as one’s eyes are not diverted from the road for a prolonged period. However, a motor vehicle moving a freeway speeds can travel the distance of a football field in the time it takes to glance at an email on one’s cell phone.
Manual distractions are a type of driving distraction that many drivers do not even consider. This type of distraction involves moving one’s hands from the steering wheel of the vehicle to reach or grab for an object in the vehicle. Common examples might include reaching to clean up a spilled beverage, grabbing for an object in the glove compartment of a vehicle or reaching into the back seat to deal with issues involving one’s children. This type of distraction can be particularly dangerous because it typically involves a distraction at all three levels visual, manual and mental.
Cell Phone Related Car Accidents: The Growing Epidemic
While cell phones and portable electronic devices are by no means the only cause of driver inattention that result in California auto accidents, their influence has received notable attention from Federal and California vehicle safety agencies and the media. Although there are restrictions on cell phone use when driving in California, those restrictions are fairly limited. Phone calls are permitted as long as they are hands free calls made with a Bluetooth or other non-handheld device. Texting on a portable device including a cell phone is also prohibited. Other activities on a cell phone or handheld device are not restricted at all and may include web browsing, playing games, reading, watching videos and any other multitude of multi-level distractions.
California’s attempts to reduce distracted driving accidents have had limited effectiveness because they fail to focus on the fact that any use of a cell phone or electronic device when driving is distracting. Statistics from states that limit cell phone use to hands free calls reveal that handheld cell phone use is no safer than calls on a handheld phone. Further, the failure to ban all use of portable electronic devices, including communication devices used for texting and calling, make enforcement of restrictions difficult because it may be impossible to prove the function for which a phone was being used when a driver is pulled over or involved in a collision.
If you or someone you love suffer serious injury in a California distracted driving accident or some you love dies, you may seek a wide range of compensation including lost income, pain and suffering, extreme emotional distress, impaired enjoyment of life, disfigurement, disability, expenses for hospitalization and medical treatment as well as other damages depending on the specific facts and circumstances of your California distracted driver car accident. Whether you suffer injuries that will eventually heal like lacerations, burns, broken bones, whiplash, torn ligaments and tendons or injuries that may be permanent, such as spinal cord injuries, brain damage, paralysis or loss of an extremity, your ability to fully recover and maintain the highest quality of life may depend on your successful pursuit of a California distracted driving claim. Your California distracted diver accident attorney can provide careful investigation of the facts, thorough analysis of the law, effective negotiation with insurance companies and persuasive courtroom advocacy. Your California distracted driving accident lawyer also can answer your questions and advise you regarding your legal rights and remedies.