Holding Text Messaging Drivers Accountable – California Texting and Driving Attorneys
While drunk driving has long been considered the most dangerous of all forms of unsafe driving, the number of drivers that text and drive in California is now making this form of driving distraction a comparable cause of California car accidents. Although drivers that text and drive became subject to a citation and fine for texting while driving effective January 1, 2009, the practice remains widespread resulting in collisions that cause catastrophic injuries and wrongful death.
California Text Messaging Accidents Common Despite Texting Ban
California law requires that drivers may not use wireless devices to “to write, send, or read a text-based communication.” This means that drivers may not use cell phones or other wireless communication devices like iPads, iPods, tablet computers or the like to read, send or write text messages while driving. The number of citations issued since the law went into effect provides a sense of the scope of the problem.
The California DMV reports that almost a half a million people received citations for texting and driving during 2011. Data tracking California texting and driving citations reveals a troubling trend. The number of citations issued for texting and driving in California in 2011 represents a 22 percent increase from 2010 and a 52 percent increase from 2009.
Given that these number only represent drivers actually caught and cited for text messaging while driving, it is safe to assume that texting and driving in California is still a widespread practice. There are several factors that may play a role in the failure of California’s texting and driving ban in discouraging this unsafe driving practice. California still permits hands free cell phone use and many other practices like checking email and surfing the internet on a cell phone.
Because many uses of cell phones and portable electronic devices while driving are still permitted, this can pose challenges for law enforcement officers in determining whether a driver is engaged in an unauthorized use of a portable electronic communication device or cell phone while driving. The fines for the offense are relatively low, which also reduces the deterrent effect of California’s texting and driving ban. A final factor that may contribute to the limited effectiveness of California’s texting and driving ban is the almost obsessive compulsion many Californians have with texting including messaging on social media sites like Facebook.
Fortunately, the news is not all bad because the number of cell phone accident fatalities has dropped by nearly half (47%) in the two years since California imposed its ban on texting and driving according to the California Office of Traffic Safety. The agency also reported a similar decline in California car accident injuries related to text messaging and driving since the ban was imposed. The number of California texting and driving accidents may continue to decline because California legislators are currently debating the merits of increasing the fine associated with violations of California’s texting and driving ban.
Texting and Driving Comparable to Drunk Driving as Factor in California Car Accidents
The adverse impact on driving posed by drivers who text and drive can hardly be overstated. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Utah compared texting and driving to drunk driving and found that they pose comparable risks of causing serious accidents. The study used a simulator and compared drivers’ reaction time with regard to factors known to affect the likelihood and severity of rear-end collisions such as driving speed, following distance and brake reaction time. The researchers concluded that texting adversely impacts driving ability and reaction time as significantly as driving with a BAC of .08 percent, the legal limit for drunk driving in California. In fact, the researchers found that writing texts messages is even more dangerous than drinking and driving.
While many people continue to drink and drive, few would deny that it is an unreasonably unsafe driving practice that creates a high risk of fatal car accidents in California. Some people defend texting and driving based on the theory that the more one engages in this form of multi-tasking the more proficient a driver can become at safely driving while text messaging. A separate study conducted by the University of Utah also debunks this false assumption. The study analyzed whether driving ability while texting and driving improves with practice and found that practice did not improve performance of driving behaviors that lead to collisions while texting and driving.
While the California ban on text messaging while driving has reduced the number of fatal car accident related fatalities, texting and driving still poses a substantial driving distraction for many California drivers. Texting and driving constitutes a visual, manual and mental distraction. Drivers are visually distracted while looking at the screen to read text messages or the keyboard when writing text messages. The practice constitutes a manual distraction while typing on the keyboard and a mental distraction when reading, writing or sending a text message.
If you are injured by in a California car accident caused by someone who is texting and driving, you may suffer life-altering injuries including head injuries, brain damage, spinal damage resulting in loss of mobility or sensation, broken bones, loss of limbs and even wrongful death. If you suffer these types of severe injuries, an experienced California texting and driving accident attorney can help you obtain financial compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, burial/funeral expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, reduced enjoyment of life and other damages based on the specifics of your case.
A California texting and driving accident attorney can provide careful investigation of the facts, thorough analysis of the law, effective negotiation with insurance companies and persuasive courtroom advocacy. A California texting and driving accident lawyer also can answer your questions and advise you regarding your legal rights and remedies.