California law prohibits texting while driving

Eighty percent of vehicle crashes occur because of some type of driver inattention. The number one source of driver distraction is talking or texting on a cell phone.

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, in 2013 more than 36 percent of Californians surveyed thought texting or talking on a cell phone while driving posed the biggest safety problem on California roadways. In the same survey, 45 percent admitted they made driving mistakes while talking on a cell phone.

It takes on average 4.6 seconds to read or type a text. Just three seconds at a speed of 65 mph, however, equates to driving the length of a football field blindfolded. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Commission, text messaging while driving creates a crash risk that is 23 times higher than driving while not distracted.

California law includes these clear rules for drivers:

  1. It is illegal to use a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle unless the cell phone is used via hands-free mode.
  2. It is illegal for all drivers to use a wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text message while driving.
  3. It is illegal for a driver under the age of 18 to operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device of any kind. This includes a cell phone, pager, and laptop computer.

Driver inattention creates inattention blindness

Despite the laws, drivers in California and elsewhere continue to text and drive, or fail to use hands-free devices. When a driver diverts attention from the road and the steering wheel, he or she has just dramatically increased the risk of accident. Even driving and using a cell phone in hands-free mode can create sufficient driver inattention to cause an accident. Other factors contributing to driver inattention include:

  • Reaching for an object, including drink and food
  • Eating and drinking
  • Adjusting the radio, temperature
  • Programming a GPS
  • Changing eyeglasses
  • Reading a map
  • Passenger distractions
  • Outdoor distractions (e.g., billboards, weather, accidents)

With eyes diverted from the road, the driver’s ability to see slowed or stopped traffic or vehicles changing lanes becomes impaired. This can lead to any number of accident scenarios, including rear-end or broadside crashes, collisions with 18-wheelers, or hitting stationary objects such as a median, railing, or signpost.

At Bohn & Fletcher, our attorneys advocate for the rights of people injured in car crashes by the negligence of others. Contact us if you or a loved one has been injured through the negligence of a distracted driver.