Have you been injured by a distracted driver?

Distracted driving has risen to epidemic levels across the country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 3,000 deaths and 431,000 injuries are the result of distracted driving-related car accidents each year. Sadly, those numbers – as shockingly high as they seem – could actually be only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Some experts estimate that the real number of auto accidents caused by distracted driving could be even higher, as much as two or three times as many as currently thought.Distracted driving, particularly texting, has gotten much attention in recent years, namely due to high-profile public education campaigns. Those same campaigns have led the federal government and countless public and private sector employers to ban texting behind the wheel as a matter of policy. Most states have done likewise; 46 of them – including California – prohibit all drivers, regardless of age or experience level, from texting while driving. California also bans the use of handheld cell phones for all drivers, and both bus drivers and novice drivers (those with permits or conditional licenses) cannot even use hands-free devices behind the wheel.

Why has texting gotten so much attention?

Much of the anti-distracted driving rhetoric focuses on texting because it is an all-encompassing distraction. Texting involves three distinct levels of distraction, creating a “perfect storm” of sorts that prevents a driver from paying adequate attention to the task at hand. The different types of distractions caused by texting are:

  • Manual – the driver taking his or her hands off the wheel to compose a message or respond to an incoming text
  • Visual – looking down from the road to read incoming messages on the phone screen or look at the on-screen keyboard when typing an outgoing message
  • Cognitive – processing the back-and-forth of the conversation, as well as mentally composing new messages or responses

These distractions result in as much as five seconds of time per text. This may not seem like long, but at highway speeds, a car can cover a distance equivalent to the length of a football field during that time.

While laws limiting the use of electronics behind the wheel are helpful, some argue that they don’t go far enough to get at the root of the distracted driving problem. Regardless of whether these laws will prove helpful in curbing the tide of distracted driving, the fact remains that irresponsible drivers are causing crashes every day. If you have been injured by a driver who was texting, talking on the phone, eating, reading or surfing the web while behind the wheel, you have legal rights. To learn more about possible legal options at your disposal, seek the advice of experienced personal injury like those at Chambers, Noronha and Kubota. Call their Santa Ana law office at 714-426-9524 or contact them online to schedule a free initial case evaluation.