Based on data from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), distracted driving is the leading cause of traffic collisions in the state. Every year, more than 20,000 drivers are involved in distracted driving-related crashes in California. In fact, this number is likely higher, because these cases are often under-reported to law enforcement. Motorists don’t always admit to driving while distracted.
This is unfortunate because distracted driving accidents are entirely preventable. There is no excuse for a driver being distracted behind the wheel. Drivers must devote their attention to the task at hand. If they need to make a call or send a text, they should find somewhere to stop if they cannot do so safely and in compliance with California’s cell phone laws.
If you’ve been hurt in a wreck with a distracted driver, you may be entitled to recover damages for your physical, emotional, and financial losses. Experienced car accident attorney Mickey Fine has seen firsthand the devastation that distracted driving can inflict on injured drivers and their families. He is committing to helping injury victims seek the full and fair compensation they need to get back on track.
How Big Is California’s Distracted Driving Problem?
Given that CHP’s annual crash figure underrepresents the number of cell phone-related accidents, just how big is California’s distracted driving problem? Consider these statistics from the California OTS:
- Each month, tens of thousands of California drivers are ticketed for violating California’s cell phone laws.
- A statewide study conducted five years ago found that 7.6% of all drivers observed were distracted by their cell phones.
- In this same study, young drivers (ages 16 to 24) demonstrated a “significantly higher rate” of handheld cell phone use while driving.
- Nearly two-thirds of all California drivers report either having been hit or having nearly been hit by a distracted driver.
What Types of Distractions Lead to Injuries in Traffic Collisions?
While talking and texting on the phone are among the leading causes of car accidents in California, these certainly are not the only distractions that result in collisions. Distracted driving can include anything that takes your eyes, hands, or mind away from the task of driving. With this in mind, the types of distractions that can lead to injuries in traffic collisions include:
- Talking on the phone (handheld or hands-free)
- Texting (handheld or hands-free)
- Reading or sending emails
- Scrolling and posting on social media
- Watching videos or reading the news
- Following GPS directions
- Changing playlists, stations, or podcasts
- Eating, drinking, and smoking
- Personal grooming
- Interacting with passengers
- Reaching for objects in the car
- Looking at signs, accidents, and other out-of-vehicle distractions
This list is not exhaustive. Anything that takes a driver’s focus off of the road is considered a driving distraction, and all driving distractions have the potential to lead to a serious or fatal collision.
How Can You Determine if a Driver Who Caused an Accident was Distracted?
Given the prevalence of traffic collisions involving distracted drivers, when seeking to recover damages from a motor vehicle accident, it is important to consider the possibility that the driver who hit you might not have been paying attention to the task at hand. There are several telltale signs of distracted driving (i.e. looking down, inconsistent speed, and failing to maintain center position in the driver’s lane); however, these alone generally won’t be enough to prove your right to financial compensation.
Proving that a driver was distracted requires evidence that can be presented in court (although most distracted driving cases are resolved through insurance settlements). Some examples of evidence that can be used to prove distracted driving include:
- Witness testimony
- Traffic, security, or cell phone camera footage
- Forensic evidence from the crash site
- The police report
- The driver’s cell phone records
In order to collect all necessary evidence while it is still available, injured drivers, passengers, and their families should consult with a car accident lawyer right away. Working quickly to secure evidence can be critical; and, in any case, it will take time to build a case for financial compensation. The sooner you hire an attorney, the sooner your lawyer can get to work on your case, and the sooner you will be able to collect the financial compensation you and your family deserve.
Contact Bakersfield Car Accident Lawyer Mickey Fine
If you need help recovering from an accident involving a driver who was (or may have been) distracted, we encourage you to contact the Law Offices of Mickey Fine today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced car accident attorney can discuss your rights and explain all of your legal options.