We have all been stuck near an erratic driver on the road, watching them veer out of their lane, stop abruptly or completely miss a traffic signal. Often, when trying to pass them to avoid danger, we discover that they are talking on the phone or looking down at a screen rather than focusing on the road.
Every day on roads throughout California, motorists get distracted from the task of driving and cause devastating motor vehicle accidents. This dangerous behavior puts everyone on the road at risk, including other motorists, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and the distracted drivers themselves.
At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, in Los Angeles, we work to secure justice and compensation for the innocent victims of serious injuries caused by distracted drivers.
Distracted Driving: A Dangerous Epidemic in California
According to the California Office for Traffic Safety (OTS) and California Highway Patrol:
- In 2014, 10 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal auto accidents were reportedly distracted at the time of the crash.
- In 2015, 59.6 percent of surveyed California drivers reported that they had been hit or nearly hit by a driver who was texting or talking on the phone.
- More than 2,500 people in California die each year in crashes caused by distracted drivers.
What makes these accidents particularly tragic is the fact that they are completely preventable. With very few exceptions, no one
needs to drive while distracted. All over the country, people have died because another motorist could not wait to send a text message or have a conversation with a passenger.
We believe that rigorously representing the victims of distracted driving accidents is an important part of the solution. By holding distracted drivers accountable, we not only help clients make the fullest recovery possible – we also show California motorists that distracted driving is not worth the financial or human cost.
Texting Is Not the Only Culprit
Most people hear “distracted driving” and immediately think of cellphones. Indeed, the widespread use of mobile devices does correlate with an uptick in accidents caused by distracted driving. However, it is important to remember that drivers have been getting distracted and causing accidents since cars were invented. Mobile phones are not the only cause of distracted driving accidents.
In addition to texting and talking on the phone, there are myriad other behaviors that can take a driver’s attention off the road, with dangerous results:
- Eating or drinking
- Grooming or applying makeup
- Adjusting the radio, GPS or other technology
- Reading maps or other materials
- Talking to passengers, particularly those in the back seat
- Reaching for items that have fallen
What California Drivers Can and Can’t Do Behind the Wheel
Laws about distracted driving change regularly, so it can be difficult for motorists to keep track of what driving behaviors are legal.
As of the time of this writing, drivers in California
may not operate any wireless electronic device with their hands. This means they may not:
- Send or read text messages, instant messages or other written communication on a phone screen
- Hold a phone while using GPS or navigation apps
- Talk on a handheld phone
- Use GPS navigation on a phone that is mounted in an approved position (on the dashboard or a lower corner of the windshield)
- Talk on a cellphone that is in hands-free mode
- Use voice-operated commands
There are legal exceptions in place for people who are driving on private property, drivers who must make emergency phone calls (i.e., in the event of an accident) and emergency personnel who must use wireless devices and navigation systems while driving.
Teens and Distracted Driving
According to a statewide survey in 2016, California drivers between 16 and 24 years old were much more likely to use handheld devices then drivers in other age groups. To anyone who knows a teenager or young adult, that fact is probably not surprising. Young people have grown up with smart phones and use them often.
Unfortunately, that puts them at a higher risk of being injured or killed in an accident involving distracted driving. If you are a parent, please consider talking to your children about distracted driving and setting an example behind the wheel.
See our blog post on how to help your child make good driving decisions.
The Importance of Evidence in Distracted Driving Cases
As courts gradually catch up with advancing technology, more potential evidence is available to plaintiffs – and their opposition – in personal injury litigation. In recent cases in the United States and Canada, courts have relied on cellphone call records, GPS data, Snapchat “snaps” and even data from fitness trackers to settle claims about accidents and their implications. With so much more information transmitted and stored on small devices, it is essential that your lawyer know how to identify, collect and interpret all of the available evidence.
At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we are established leaders in this facet of personal injury law. As an established law firm with decades of experience and a long list of successful case results, we have the resources to commit to a thorough investigation of all the evidence in your case. In addition to full-time investigators on staff, we draw on the knowledge of expert witnesses who are leaders in their fields.
When necessary, we are able to demonstrate and reconstruct the circumstances of an accident to show the judge or jury exactly what happened and who is responsible.
Hold Distracted Drivers Accountable. Contact Us for a Free Consultation.
Our attorneys represent the victims of life-altering injuries throughout Greater Los Angeles and statewide, a responsibility we take extremely seriously. Your first consultation is free and we will only ever collect attorney fees if we secure compensation for you, which means there is no cost and no risk in learning more about your rights after an accident caused by a distracted driver.
Our office features accessible parking and drop-off but, if an injury makes it difficult for you to visit, we will conduct your consultation over the phone or come to a location that is convenient for you. To learn more and take the first step toward justice, please contact us online or call 310-576-1200.