Traffic accident fatalities in California have continued to rise in recent years. Auto accident deaths increased 13 percent from 2010 to 2013 and officials expected that number to continue to rise in 2014. We are one of the top five states with the most traffic accidents, and teen driver fatalities increased over 25 percent from 2013 to 2014. Several factors contribute to the high number of accidents on California’s roads, but in recent years, distracted driving has become one of the most disturbing trends contributing to the increase in traffic accidents. Recently, a Southern California woman was sentenced to six years in prison for killing a 23-year-old woman in a distracted driving collision.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Most commonly, cell phone usage leads to distracted driving because it causes drivers to take their eyes and minds off of the road. In fact, the National Safety Council estimates that a driver using a cellphone is four times as likely to crash, and that twenty percent of crashes involve both hands-free and handheld mobile devices. Distracted driving includes more than just using a cellphone, however. Anything that causes a driver to divert their attention from the task of driving is a distraction, and many drivers have been seen or even admitted to doing some bizarre things behind the wheel, including:
- Using a cellphone for texting, talking, or using apps;
- Reading maps or looking at a GPS navigation system;
- Physically handling a music system or device;
- Eating or drinking;
- Applying makeup, shaving, fixing hair, or brushing teeth;
- Taking photos, including “selfies”; and
- Changing clothes.
Crash and Fatality Rates
Every day, over eight people are killed and over one thousand injured in car crashes due to distracted driving. The U.S. Government reported that 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in 2014 from collisions involving distracted drivers. Distracted driving has become such a concern that the U.S. Department of Transportation has initiated a Distracted Driving Campaign to raise public awareness, conduct research, and enact regulations to better enforce bans on using electronic devices while behind the wheel. While many vehicle manufacturers have started including hands-free communication options such as Bluetooth audio, the fact is that many drivers have older cars that do not support hands-free usage, and many drivers, especially younger drivers, simply do not heed warnings of the dangers of texting and driving
Younger people are more likely to text and use cell phones in general, and that trend persists when young drivers get behind the wheel. Drivers between ages 15 and 19 are most likely to be involved in collisions due to distracted driving, and 10 percent of all drivers in this age group involved in crashes were distracted at the time of the collision. Drivers in their twenties are also a high-risk group, with 27 percent of all distracted drivers and 38 percent of distracted drivers using cell phones in fatal crashes falling into this age range. Older drivers are not off the hook, however; one study found that adults may be more likely to text and drive than teens, with 49 percent of adults admitting to texting while driving despite knowing that it is a dangerous practice.
What to Do After a Distracted Driving Accident
If you have been in an auto accident, call our experienced car accident attorneys at The Sargent Firm Injury Lawyers as soon as possible for a free consultation to discuss your case.