Texting While Driving
This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 11th, 2016
Posted in News & Articles | Posted by: George Heppner - San Diego Personal Injury Attorney
Our Chula Vista Car Accident Attorney Weighs in on Texting While Driving
The law on texting while driving in California
These days, most Californians have smart phones, and, despite the known safety risks, it is extremely common for people to use those phones while they are driving their cars. You might not have known this, but it is against the law to make a phone call or send a text message while driving in your car in California unless you are using a hands-free device. These violations can lead to hefty fines, as well as increased liability if you injure someone in a car accident. Laws against texting while driving in California are also meant to include other text-based communications such as emails, instant messaging or manually entering information into your GPS. These laws can apply even if you are at a red light or stuck in traffic.
The current fine for texting while driving in the state of California is $20 for a first offense and $50 for any subsequent offense. However, when all of the court costs are included in this calculation, it can become as high as $76 for a first offense and $190 for a subsequent offense. Texting and driving, in addition to being dangerous, can be very expensive.
Distracted driving information and research in the United States
Distracted driving, which includes text messaging while driving, is a major cause of accidents leading to personal injury, and even death, in the state of California and around the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, texting while driving can increase your risk of a car accident by up to 23 times over driving without distractions. These accidents have had a devastating effect in the United States. In fact, more than 435,000 people were injured or killed in car accidents caused by distracted driving in 2014 alone, and the numbers keep going up as more and more people buy smart phones. It is because of high numbers like this that 44 states in the United States, including California, have enacted laws against texting and driving to try and reduce this risk.
Other forms of distracted driving are associated with an increased number of accidents, such as talking on the phone, talking to your passengers and even eating and drinking. However, texting and driving is considered one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving because it takes a driver’s eyes and attention off the road for an average of five seconds or more, which is more than enough time for a catastrophic car accident to occur. Texting is an action that uses your hands, your eyes and your mind at the same time, and this can greatly increases your risk of not responding in time to a changing traffic signal or another dangerous situation on the road. The Centers for Disease Control conducted a survey on distracted driving and found that about a third of drivers in the United States send texts or emails while driving their cars.
Crash statistics have also shown that very high numbers of drivers in their teens and twenties, an age group that has admitted to using cell phones and particularly to text messaging in vehicles more than older drivers, tend to suffer the highest proportion of fatal accidents as a result of texting while driving. For this reason, teenage drivers are subject to even more stringent cell phone laws in the state of California and are not even allowed to use their cell phones with a hands-free device.
How texting and driving might affect the outcome of your personal injury case?
When looking at fault for a car accident in the state of California, distracted driving such as texting while driving is considered to be an example of driver negligence. This means that when an insurance adjustor, a judge or a jury is determining who was at fault in a car accident, the fact that one or both of the drivers was texting and driving may be used as evidence of who caused the accident. California is a comparative negligence state, which means that both drivers can be at fault to different degrees, so if you are texting while driving through an intersection and someone who is driving too fast hits you, you may receive less compensation for your injury because you are found to be partially at fault for the accident.
If you are one of the growing numbers of Californians who has been injured in an accident by a driver who was texting, contact George Charles Heppner today at (619) 235-4300 or (888) 503-6473 to speak with a Chula Vista car accident attorney you can rely on.