Distracted driving accidents on the rise in California

Car accidents due to inattentive drivers are a cause for concern.

We have all heard the horror stories of fatal accidents caused by distracted drivers. We see these stories in the news and hear them from friends. At this point, most of us know someone who has been directly affected by a careless driver. Unfortunately, statistics show that distracted driving is not getting better. There is a prevalent belief that "it can't happen to me," or "it'll be safe, this will only take a second," that is mistaken and dangerous. The number of people with smartphones continues to rise and so does the addiction to using those smartphones and apps.

What is distracted driving really?

Many of us think that distracted driving is limited to people using cell phones to talk or text while behind the wheel. The typical stereotype is a teenager who causes an accident because he or she is texting with friends while driving. This certainly happens, and cell phone use and texting are the number one sources of distraction. However, distraction comes in many more forms than using mobile devices.

Distracted driving is really inattentive driving and that can be anything that causes a driver to take his or her eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or mind on things other than the act of driving. This certainly does include cell phone use (handheld or hands-free) and texting, but it also includes all too common activities like eating, drinking, grooming, reading, watching videos, programming the GPS or reaching to pick something up that fell while driving. Any activity that causes a driver to be inattentive is considered a distraction and it only takes 2 seconds or less for a motor vehicle accident to occur (California Office of Traffic Safety).

Study shows distracted driving increase

Due to the growing concern regarding distracted driving, the California Office of Traffic Safety and the UC Berkeley's Safe Transportation Research and Education Center co-sponsored a study, which showed alarming results. Including that, 9.2 percent of drivers use a cellphone in 2015, as compared to 6.6 percent in 2014. The study findings were based on daytime observations and data collected from onramps, stop signs and stoplights. No evening data was collected, indicating the possibility that actual numbers could be even higher.

In addition, in a news release of the study findings, it was noted that up to 3000 people are killed in this country each year because of distracted driving (According to the California Office of Traffic Safety), and inattentive drivers contribute to 80 percent of vehicle crashes nationwide (according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

How to keep safe

Observations, news stories, study findings and statistics are all alarming and we all need to play our part to keep the roads safe. Safety experts recommend that we do everything we can to avoid distractions. Some recommendations are to first and foremost, obey the law and put down the cellphone. Additional tips include, don't multitask in the car, program your GPS before you start your trip, limit the number of friends in your vehicle, pull off the road if you are tired and stop the car if you need to use your cellphone in an emergency.

If you are in a motor vehicle accident due to a distracted driver, it is also important to know you have rights and to protect them. Contact an attorney at the Law Offices of William W. Green & Associates to learn more about protecting yourself and seeking the damages to which you may be entitled.