Man using cell phone while driving the car

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Distracted driving is a national epidemic, claiming thousands of innocent lives every year. California motorists are banned from talking on hand-held phones and texting while driving, but in 2014, 61 percent of drivers polled said they had been struck or nearly hit by a driver who was texting or talking on a cell phone.

An experienced distracted driving accident lawyer in Los Angeles, Sean F. Salamati uses every available resource to win the compensation you deserve in the wake of a car crash caused by someone’s inattention or negligence. If you’ve been hurt because of another’s distraction while behind the wheel, contact The Salamati Law Firm for expert legal guidance during a free consultation.

What is distracted driving?

Recent technology affords many conveniences for staying connected, navigating new places and getting crucial information. However, today’s tablets and smart phones have also created an endless source of distraction for motorists who should be focusing on the sole task of driving.

Talking on the phone while driving is one of numerous activities that can distract. Additional driving distractions include:

  • Adjusting the radio
  • Texting
  • Personal grooming
  • Watching a video
  • Chatting with passengers
  • Reading
  • Eating or drinking
  • Reaching for an object
  • Using a navigational system

What percent of all crashes are the result of distracted driving?

  • At least 80 percent of all car crashes are the result of distracted driving, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Distracted drivers are also behind 16 percent of all traffic accident fatalities on U.S. highways.

Distracted drivers are a new kind of menace on California roadways. Everyone knows the dangers of texting and driving, but it doesn’t stop people from using their latest gadgets while on the road.

Distracted driving accidents

Woman sending text messages while driving.Consider these recent crashes in California:

  • In 2015, Jorene Nicolas was convicted of vehicular manslaughter in a distracted driving accident that killed a 23-year-old high school softball coach on the 405 Freeway. Investigators say the woman made two phones calls and sent numerous texts in the 15 minutes before her vehicle—traveling at 85mph– slammed into the rear of the victim’s stopped car.
  • In 2014, a young woman took her eyes off the road while driving near the intersection of Comconex Road and Yosemite Avenue in Manteca, CA. She crashed into a group of teenagers, killing one 14-year old boy and injuring three others.
  • In 2009, 19-year-old Eric Okerblom was struck and killed while biking near his home in Santa Maria, CA. He was struck by a teen driver who had been texting just prior to the collision.

Texting and driving statistics

National distracted driving statistics are a sobering reminder of the senseless injuries and fatalities caused by inattention and cell phone use.

Consider the following texting and driving facts:

  • 43 percent of teenagers admit to texting while driving
  • 33 percent of drivers aged 18 to 64 report reading or sending texts while driving within the past month
  • Texting while driving is 6 times more likely to cause a crash compared to drunk driving
  • Texting takes your eyes off the road for 5 full seconds
  • Text messaging increases your general crash risk 23 times
  • Texting while driving is the number one cause of U.S. teenage deaths

How many people die from texting and driving?

In 2014, more than half of all Californians surveyed said that texting and driving is the most serious distraction. Texting while driving statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation show that cell phone use is involved in 1.6 million car accidents annually, and a staggering 6,000 deaths are attributed to distraction-related crashes including texting.

Texting and driving laws in California

State laws on cell phone use and texting in California have marginally improved road safety over the past couple of years. California’s distracted driving laws encompass the following restrictions:

  • Ban on handheld cell phone use for drivers of all ages
  • Ban on texting for drivers of all ages
  • Ban on cell phone use – with or without wireless accessories — for minor drivers (under 18)
  • Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus and transit drivers

Is texting and driving illegal?

  • All California drivers, regardless of age, are prohibited from texting while driving. More precisely, it is illegal to send or view a text while driving, sitting in traffic or while stopped at a red light. Penalties and court costs of $76 to $190 are incurred with each violation.

However, California courts have ruled that it is legal to read maps and type directions into a mobile GPS program while driving. Drivers are also allowed to text while their vehicle is parked in a lot, but idling.

Can you be held liable for texting a driver?

A 2013 decision handed down by a New Jersey appeals court may extend liability in vehicle accidents to individuals that exchanged texts with the at-fault driver just prior to the collision. The NJ judges determined that a person who actively encourages someone to respond to messages while driving may be held partially responsible in a civil suit, if they had reason to believe that person would view the message while driving.

This groundbreaking ruling has elicited much support, but has limited effect on state laws elsewhere. While California is cracking down on distracted driving, it is not yet illegal to text someone who is driving.

How do I prove that a driver was distracted?

Every motorist is expected to drive in a reasonably safe manner. In order to prove negligence in a distracted driving lawsuit, the courts require compelling evidence that demonstrates inattention caused the crash.

Evidence of liability may include:

  • Police reports that detail suspicions of cell phone use
  • Cell phone records that show text messaging and phone call logs
  • Photographs of the scene
  • Admission from the driver
  • Surveillance video that documents the accident
  • Witnesses who are willing to testify about distracted behaviors

With the aid of seasoned car accident lawyer Sean Salamati, victims may be able to pursue compensation for:

  • Lost income
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Past and future medical bills
  • Future medical and rehabilitation costs
  • Loss of consortium
  • Wrongful death

Distracted driving lawyer Los Angeles

If you suspect that a distracted driver caused your accident, you are encouraged to contact the Los Angeles-based Salamati Law Firm to discuss the possibility of litigation. Our veteran personal injury attorneys will outline your rights to compensation during a no-charge case evaluation. Get the answers you need now; call 1-800-957-9898.

Texting while driving resources

  1. Distraction.Gov, Distracted Driving Facts and Statistics http://www.distraction.gov/stats-research-laws/facts-and-statistics.html
  2. California DMV, Safety Laws in California http://www.dmv.org/ca-california/safety-laws.php
  3. SF Gate, Cell phones and driving: What’s legal, what’s not http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Cell-phones-and-driving-What-s-legal-what-s-not-5539955.php
  4. LA Times, Using cellphone as GPS not subject to Calif. driving law, court rules http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-cellphone-court-20140228-story.html
  5. DoSomething.org, 11 Facts about Texting and Driving https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-fact-about-texting-and-driving
  6. National Safety Council, Cell Phone Crash Data http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/Distracted_Driving/Pages/Cell-Phone-Crash-Data.aspx
  7. NBC Los Angeles, Woman Sentenced to Prison in Fatal Distracted Driving Crash http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Woman-Sentenced-to-Prison-in-Fatal-Distracted-Driving-Crash–324442181.html