Study finds positive effect from California’s distracted driving laws

Ever since cellphones became a must-have item, distracted driving has increasingly become a safety issue on our nation's roadways. Unfortunately, California is not an exception. According to the Office of Traffic Safety (OTC), it is estimated that some form of driver distraction causes about 80 percent of car accidents.

Although there are many forms of distraction, texting while driving or talking on a cellphone are the leading sources of driver distraction, according to the OTC. Although many drivers believe that they can effectively multitask, many studies have proved that it is actually impossible for the human brain to do this. As a result, drivers develop a sort of "attention blindness" when talking on cellphones which prevents their brains from identifying (and reacting to) objects and dangers in front of the car.

Texting while driving is just as bad, if not worse than talking on a cellphone. According to distraction.gov, texting takes a driver's eyes off the road an average of 5 seconds-enough time to cover the length of a football field at freeway speeds.

Legislative response

As a result of the proven dangers that cellphones and other portable technology poses to other drivers, the California Legislature has passed several laws to address the problem. Under California law, it is illegal to drive while using a handheld cellphone. In addition, the law prohibits drivers from sending, reading or writing a text message while the vehicle is in motion. Although recent studies have found that hands-free texting is just as dangerous as texting on handheld devices, it is legal in California for drivers to text using hands-free devices. However, earlier this year, a lawmaker introduced legislation that would criminalize this behavior.

According to data from OTS, the legislation has had a positive effect on driver habits. According to an observational study conducted by the OTS, the laws have reduced drivers talking on handheld devices by 33 percent. In addition, according to the study, the total number of California drivers observed actively using a cellphone fell to 7.4 percent in 2013-a 2.4 percent decrease from 2012.

Although this data seems encouraging, it was derived from a rather small sample of drivers, so it may not accurately reflect the behavior of California drivers at large. National statistics paint a different picture According to distraction.gov, every year since 2010, more than 660,000 drivers nationwide are using cellphones or manipulating electronic devices at any given daylight moment, putting the drivers around them at a needless risk of serious injury.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident and suspect driver distraction is the cause, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident and advise you on your legal right to compensation for your injuries.

Our founding attorney, Scott J. Corwin, has more than 25 years of experience in representing accident victims injured in all forms of motor vehicle accidents, whether by a negligent driver who is distracted or otherwise, for automobile, motorcycle, truck, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, in the Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, San Diego, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and throughout the state of California.