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The Low Down on Distracted Driving

May 2, 2018 Blog

We’ve all followed drivers who are texting or talking on the cellphone, bouncing off the Botts’ dots or slowing traffic around them. Hopefully, though, we’ve managed to avoid the consequences of distracted driving – injuries, death and property damage that occur when the driver crashes.

Mobile devices – perhaps the most dangerous – are not the only diversions to drivers. Anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road, attention off the road or hands off the steering wheel can cause distracted driving.

It could be a GPS, the control panel on the dashboard or a laptop on the center console. Or maybe it was just being tired, having an animated conversation with a passenger or dripping sauce from a veggie burger that caused the distraction. Regardless of the cause, drivers are responsible for keeping their attention on the road. Distracted driving can cause crashes. Crashes can hurt people. Consequently, distracted driving should be avoided at all costs, and distracted drivers should be held accountable to the fullest extent.

First enacted in California in 2008 and toughened up in later versions, the ban on handheld cellphone use requires a handheld device be mounted on the windshield, dashboard or console, so it does not impede the driver’s view. (CVC 23123.5. Texting while driving is covered under a separate statute.) Drivers under 18 are not permitted to use even hands-free cellphones. Exceptions are granted for emergency calls, for law enforcement and on private property. While CVC 23123.5 is the overriding black letter law on use of handheld devices, other laws like those governing right of way, turning and yielding can come into play as can the state’s tort laws if the rules are violated and someone is injured.

There are real and potentially devastating consequences which result from distracted driving. In one case, a distracted driver unlawfully entered an intersection and crashed into the side of a vehicle, causing a severe and permanent elbow injury to the other driver. The injured driver’s professional career ended that day. She will have pain the rest of her life. The result: $1.95 million to the injured driver. In another incident, a distracted driver turned left without looking and struck a motorcycle that had the right of way. The rider sustained severe leg, ankle and foot injuries resulting in a $1.25 million settlement. He will never walk the same way again.

To avoid distracted driving and the potential for injuries and lawsuits, take these simple steps. Use talk-to-text features, voice commands on smartphones and smart cars, and employ voice-activated GPS. Utilize call blocking while driving. Pull over to a parking space or other safe area before touching your phone. Apply your makeup and hair products at home or before you drive. Eat at home or at another location, but not in your car while driving. Always proceed with caution, look in all directions and utilize mirrors before turns and lane changes.

If you or a loved one is injured by a distracted driver, CaseyGerry’s experienced automobile crash attorneys can assist victims and their families. Learn more here.