April is National Distracted Driving Awareness month, raising awareness of the risky behaviors that pose a danger to vehicle occupants, pedestrians and bicyclists when a driver focuses on another activity while behind the wheel, rather than the task at hand – driving safely. Eating, adjusting the radio or climate controls, as well as the use of a cell phone or texting while driving are all risky activities that increase the odds of being involved in a life-altering collision.
Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. At 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field. Being a responsible driver – not a distracted driver – will help to ensure your safety, and the safety of those around you.
A recent Harris Poll found that 55 percent of Americans believe the number one threat motorists face is distracted driving, higher than the more common road threats, such as driving under the influence (31%), driving aggressively (8%), or speeding (3%). Phones were cited as the top source of distraction, at 43 percent.
Law enforcement agencies throughout California and the country are working together to prevent tragedies resulting from distracted drivers, particularly those drivers who are using a cell phone to talk or text while operating a motor vehicle, and citing drivers who violate the rules of the road.
Last year, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department issued 15,042 citations to drivers texting, calling, or performing another function on their phone. The drivers were in violation of a 2017 hands-free cell phone law that prohibits drivers from having a cell phone in their hand for any reason and limits the driver’s use of the phone to a hands-free manner. Phones must be mounted on the dashboard or center console, and can only be touched once with the swipe or tap of a finger to activate or deactivate a call function.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration research shows that in 2017, at least 3,166 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, including those who were texting and driving. To prevent distracted-driver related tragedies, motorists are urged to:
- Turn off electronic devices (ie. cell phones) and put them out of reach before starting to drive.
- Speak up when you are a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to make the call for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the driving task.
- Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are the best defense against unsafe drivers.
- Be good role models for young drivers and set a good example. Talk with your teens about responsible driving.
Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP has extensive experience representing those who have been harmed as a result of a distracted-driver related collision. Most recently, the firm obtained a seven-figure verdict for a man who was injured after a distracted driver ran a red light and struck his vehicle at an intersection.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a collision with a distracted driver, contact Panish Shea & Boyle LL attorneys at 877.800-1700 for a free consultation.