Everything You Need to Know About Distracted Driving

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Everything You Need to Know About Distracted Driving

Everything You Need to Know About Distracted Driving

Mar 23, 2021

Since the start of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, gathering in person was deemed unsafe and prohibited in many locations around the country. Accordingly, millions of Americans turned to technology in an effort to remain connected. It shouldn’t come as a shock, therefore, that we are now more fixated on our screen devices than ever before. According to 2019 data from the Pew Research Center, 96% of Americans own a cellphone. Thanks to smartphones, you can now binge Netflix virtually anywhere from the palm of your hand, often making face-to-face communication a secondary priority. But what happens when the desire to constantly socialize electronically takes over, and cell phones end up being used in dangerous ways when behind the wheel of a car?

The results of distracted driving are alarming, and frequently result in serious injuries or even fatalities. Texting and other cell phone use while driving is the number one source of distraction for drivers. Accident statistics indicate that thousands of fatalities (and hundreds of thousands of injuries) occur annually in the United States due to distracted driving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported over 2,800 deaths from distracted driving car accidents in 2018, continuing a disturbing trend that, since 2010, has seen these types of deaths consistently soar to over 3,000 cases every year. The American Automobile Association’s (AAA) “Guide to Teen Driver Safety” acknowledges that six out of every 10 teen driving accidents involve distracted driving. Additionally, an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey found that more than half of teen drivers reported using a cell phone while driving. Moreover, one in four admitted to typing or sending texts while driving at some point within the last 30 days. This data is concerning for everyone sharing the road with young drivers, especially the parents of teens.

Distracted Driving and California Law: When Is It Illegal to Use a Cell Phone on the Road?

Distracted Driving and California Law:

Texting while driving is definitely dangerous, but what does the law say about this risky behavior? In California, holding your cell phone while driving is illegal. The California Office of Traffic Safety explains that drivers are prohibited from using a cell phone or any similar type of handheld device. Hands-free alternatives like talking while on speakerphone or using voice commands are the exception. Drivers under the age of 18, however, may not use a cell phone for any reason according to the law. And beginning July 1, 2021, a bill enacted in 2019 by the California State Legislature goes into effect. The law stipulates that any driver who is caught violating the handheld rule a second time (within three years) is subject to receiving a point on their driving record.

Facts and Statistics on Distracted Driving

The California Highway Patrol is cracking down on cell phone use for good reason. Let’s look at some fast facts that give the full picture of the risks posed by distracted driving:

  • 58% Hit by a Driver – California drivers surveyed in 2019 who said they had been hit (or nearly hit) by another driver who was talking on a cell phone or texting.
  • 51% Made a Mistake – Over half of drivers surveyed admitted to making a mistake while they were driving and talking on a cell phone.
  • 3x Increased Risk of Crash – Drivers who have to take their eyes off the road, or their hands off the wheel, to complete a subtask are three times more likely to be in a crash.
  • 5s Eyes Off the Road – When you’re texting while driving, your eyes are off the road an average of five seconds at a time. When traveling at 55 mph, that is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field while blindfolded.

    *Source: Go Safely California

    Cell phones are just one of the many preventable distractions contributing to deaths and injuries on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration breaks down three main classifications of driving distractions:

    • Visual: taking your eyes off the road
    • Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
    • Cognitive: taking your mind off driving

    Here’s what these distractions could look like in some real-life (and dangerous) driving scenarios:

    • Grooming – Believe it or not, when running late for work or an important meeting, many drivers actually report using their (aptly named) vanity mirrors to apply mascara or even shave while driving.
    • Adjusting the radio system/vehicle controls – Gone are the tactile knobs and buttons of your grandfather’s dashboard-touchscreens are now the norm in many newer-model vehicles and can require drivers to take their eyes off the road, especially when unfamiliar with the setup in a borrowed or rented car.
    • Occupants in the vehicle – Driving with passengers is especially distracting for teens. In fact, per the California Department of Motor Vehicles, in the first 12 months of obtaining a provisional driver’s license, transporting other passengers under age 20 without the presence of a California-licensed driver age 25+ is prohibited.
    • Pets that are not contained – Out of an abundance of caution, many Americans have chosen to drive distances that they would normally fly during the pandemic. These long road trips can lead to such ill-fated decisions as letting the family cat roam freely in the backseat.
    • Eating – Another perceived time-saver that has potentially deadly consequences. No matter how confident you are with your abilities relative to this type of risky multitasking, none of us wants to consider how our safety in the middle of a crosswalk can hinge on a dropped chicken nugget.
    • Reading – When important work emails just can’t wait, you putting yourself and everyone else on the road at risk when scrolling through your inbox on a mobile device.

    Contact our top-rated team of expert car accident attorneys online or by phone today to pursue justice and secure a financial award for damages.

    Distracted Driving Incidents Continue to Make Headlines

    Everything You Need to Know About Distracted Driving

    Despite the known risks of distracted driving (46.7% of Californians surveyed say texting while driving tops the list of the most serious types of driving distractions), accidents still occur, sometimes with fatal results. Let’s look at a few recent examples:

    Case #1: Motorcyclist killed on Sacramento freeway by suspected drunk driver who had been texting

    On the night of Saturday, March 6, a 67-year-old motorcyclist was killed in a crash on Interstate 5 in Sacramento by a suspected drunk driver who admitted to authorities he had been on his phone at the time of the collision.

    CBS Sacramento reported that the 43-year-old BMW driver, Careem Mayfield, caused the crash, launching the motorcyclist into the next lane where he was struck and killed by oncoming traffic. Mayfield has been charged with vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence of alcohol, and driving with a license that was suspended due to prior DUI offenses.

    In this case, the family of the victim could seek various types of damages in a wrongful death civil lawsuit. The family may even be able to seek additional punitive damages for recklessness that rises to the level of willful and malicious conduct given the nature of the driver’s conduct.

    Case #2: Woman accidentally drives into freezing river while singing ‘Happy Birthday’ on the phone

    A 29-year-old California woman was fortunate to be rescued by a fast-acting Federal Express driver who witnessed her vehicle plunge into the Truckee River on March 8, the Sacramento Bee reported. The woman told authorities she had been singing “Happy Birthday” to her cousin on the phone in adverse weather conditions, causing her to veer into the river.

    The FedEx driver heroically rushed into the water to help free the women from her sinking vehicle as it filled with water. He managed to open the door to the backseat and helped the woman escape before calling 911. The California Highway Patrol officer who arrived on the scene told news outlets that, in his own experience, drivers very rarely admit to being on their phones.

    The woman was lucky to leave the scene with embarrassment rather than serious injuries, and her distracted driving could have easily resulted in the type of crash that causes severe harm to both people and property.

    Case #3: Young boy dies after being struck by vehicle while crossing the street in South L.A.

    A March 2020 accident in South Los Angeles that took the life of a 12-year-old boy is especially personal for Dordulian Law Group’s Chief Investigator, Detective Moses Castillo. Castillo was handling the case as a detective for the Los Angeles Police Department’s Central Traffic Division at the time. The early-morning incident involved a 43-year-old woman who was turning left from Woodlawn Avenue onto Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. As the woman approached the intersection, a young boy was walking in the direct path of the vehicle. The car suddenly struck the pedestrian. The boy, who was half a block from home on his way to school, died at the scene despite attempted CPR from a bystander.

    The driver claimed she was not distracted by her phone. Police did not find evidence of drugs or alcohol and took the woman’s phone to perform a thorough analysis in an effort to determine the cause of the accident.

    Detective Castillo, who was pictured in a Los Angeles Times report escorting the victim’s visibly distraught mother, told the paper “everything’s on the table” in the investigation into the young boy’s death.

    Case #4: Distracted driver using WhatsApp messenger causes pedestrian fatality

    In another case handled by DLG’s Detective Castillo, a woman checking her WhatsApp messages while driving failed to notice a 65-year-old man walking in the marked crosswalk. The vehicle struck the man, killing him instantly in what witnesses described as a gruesome scene. The driver was charged with felony vehicular manslaughter, which carries a sentence of up to six years.

    Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.

    Detective Moses Castillo: DLG’s Highly Experienced Chief Investigator

    When it comes to brining justice to victims of distracted driving incidents, Dordulian Law Group is proud to rely on a team that includes the experience and supreme dedication of its Chief Investigator, Detective Moses Castillo. A decorated LAPD veteran in both the elite Central Traffic and Child Sex Crimes Divisions, Detective Castillo has served the Los Angeles community for nearly 30 years, and is a well known, highly-respected official who has helped hundreds of victims and families impacted by distracted driving tragedies.

    Castillo joined the DLG team in 2020, and continues to provide invaluable support as the firm’s lead investigator. Detective Castillo oversees various matters, including but not limited to car accident claims and wrongful death lawsuits. With a seasoned detective like Moses Castillo on your side, you can feel safe and assured, even in the face of devastating tragedy, knowing the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals with proven success records are fighting on your behalf.

    Detective Castillo recently partnered with the Automobile Association of America (AAA) to raise awareness for distracted driving. With April being National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Castillo appeared at the Auto Club of Southern California as a subject matter expert for the AAA press conference. He was joined by two parents who recently lost their child in a distracted driving accident that was investigated by Castillo as a member of the LAPD’s elite Central Traffic Division. Below are some pictures and video from the AAA event in Los Angeles:

    What Are My Options if I'm the Victim of a Distracted Driving Accident?

    What Are My Options if I'm the Victim of a Distracted Driving Accident?

    What Are My Options if I'm the Victim of a Distracted Driving Accident?

    What Are My Options if I'm the Victim of a Distracted Driving Accident?

    What Are My Options if I'm the Victim of a Distracted Driving Accident?

    What Are My Options if I’m the Victim of a Distracted Driving Accident?

    If you’re involved in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, take solace in the fact that you do not have to navigate the process of filing an insurance claim, calculating what damages you may be owed, and fighting to recover financial losses alone. The team at DLG has the required experience to secure the best possible results for your case – including fighting tirelessly for maximum financial compensation. Depending on the circumstances and level of negligence relative to your unique case, you may have a right to sue following a car accident if another party is at fault. You could receive compensation for various damages, including your medical bills, lost income, property damages, pain and suffering, punitive damages, and much more. At Dordulian Law Group, we will carefully assess all the facts related to your case and develop a winning strategy to ensure we recover every ounce of available financial compensation.

    The expert attorneys at the Dordulian Law Group will advise you on how to proceed immediately following a car accident, and can guide you through the often arduous process of filing a claim with your auto insurance company. While you may report the accident to your insurer, remember that your insurance company’s primary objective is not to advocate for you. Never make a statement without having a qualified attorney from Dordulian Law Group present to ensure your rights are protected.

    Don’t Settle for Less Than the DLG Advantage

    Rather than offering a fair settlement, which makes the injured victim financially “whole” and assures a full recovery – physically, emotionally, and financially – insurance companies will utilize their own biased investigators, and likely come to a conclusion that prioritizes their bottom line above all else. This is exactly why having an experienced personal injury lawyer in your corner is vital. With DLG as your dedicated advocate, you are automatically in the best position to receive the maximum compensation you are owed.

    Schedule an appointment online for a free consultation today, or call us directly to speak to our top-rated, expert car accident attorneys.

    California’s Statute of Limitations for Distracted Driving Accidents

    In California, there is a two-year statute of limitations for car accident claims, and a three-year statute of limitations for property damage resulting from a car accident. You may miss out on being able to pursue legal recourse if you do not file your claim before the deadline expires. If you have questions regarding filing deadlines or how to protect your rights after a distracted driving accident, feel free to reach out to one of our top-rated professionals 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    Don’t Settle for Less Than the DLG Advantage

    Successfully proving negligence in a car accident or wrongful death suit is a job for only the most seasoned and experienced personal injury lawyer with a past history of successfully representing injured victims. Former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, Samuel Dordulian, and his team of dedicated professionals are here to give you the advantage you need to not only win your case but also recover the maximum financial damages you are entitled to for your injuries.

    The investigators at DLG, including former LAPD detective Moses Castillo, have recovered over $100 million for their clients. They are not afraid to take a case trial and will fight for as long it takes to reach the maximum settlement you deserve. Call today for a free consultation at 818-322-4056. Your personal injury claim matters, and it shouldn’t be handled by anyone but the most experienced and dedicated legal team. Get in touch now and let Dordulian Law Group win your trust and your case.

    For a distracted driving-related injury, the answer is as simple as D-L-G.

  • Go See Sam