How often are you stuck behind someone or seated next to someone who is too busy to pay attention to the road, misses turns, or misses a signal change just because they are too preoccupied with something else?
Unfortunately, distracted driving has become a serious problem. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1,000 injuries are reported every day due to distracted driving, and nine prove to be fatal. These numbers are shocking, considering every driver has a duty of care to drive responsibly and protect others on the road by following traffic rules and focusing on driving. This is their primary responsibility.
If you or your loved one has been injured due to a driver not paying attention, you can get financial compensation for your pain, suffering and medical bills. We understand how difficult an accident could be, especially when the injuries are severe. You are not alone; Brown & Gessell is here to help. If you are in Northern California, contact the Law Offices of Brown & Gessell.
What Constitutes Distracted Driving?
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) defines distracted driving as doing any activity that diverts your attention while driving.
Major types of distracted driving include:
Distracting Physical Activities:
- Drinking or eating
- Being distracted with personal grooming, such as combing hair and putting on makeup and clothes.
- Helping the passenger with something
- Adjusting controls inside the vehicle while driving
The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) notes that, if texting, a driver takes their eyes off the road for an average of five seconds to look at and read a text. If the car is going 55 mph, it is like driving the length of a football field during those five seconds, but with your eyes closed. This and other distracted driving can cause single and often multi-car crashes with horrific outcomes.
Cognitive or Mental Distractions:
Cognitive or mental distractions are the one that distracts the driver mentally, rather than visually or physically, for significant periods of time. When the mind of the driver wanders off, everyone else is at risk.
Here are some examples of cognitive distractions:
- Focusing on how to respond to an email or text
- Engaging in a conversation with a passenger
- Letting their mind drift to think about their life problems or work
- Daydreaming or zoning out
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Focusing on a conversation or phone call with someone else in the car.
- Dealing with children in the car.
- Being troubled by stressful situations that are unrelated to your drive.
Usually, these types of distractions mean that it is too late when the driver realizes the danger they have put themselves in.
These distractions occur when the driver looks at something else other than the road. They may fail to see the vehicle, other passengers, pedestrians, or other hazards in front of them. Here are some common types of visual distractions:
- Looking at the GPS, or other devices
- Searching for something in the car
- Turning around to look to another passenger in the back or children
- Reading something
- “Rubber-necking,” or focusing your attention on crashes on the road.
Distracted Driving In California
In California, it is illegal to use your phone while driving unless you are making an emergency phone call. Using your phone in a hands-free manner through Bluetooth, voice commands, or speakerphone is limited to adults. Individuals under the age of 18 are prohibited from using their phones for any reason while driving.
The California Office of Traffic Safety has also launched multiple educational and public awareness campaigns to warn people of the risk of distracted driving and the many examples of what can distract drivers from the road and the life-altering consequences.
If a driver uses their phone while driving, the fine for a first-time offense is $20 and $50 for subsequent violations. These are base fines and do not include any additional assessment fees, meaning the actual fine could be a lot higher. The driver will also be expected to appear in court; if they fail to do so, and they could be penalized or jailed. If a person causes a collision while distracted, the jury wards may be larger.
Brown & Gessell
We have been operating in Stockton and nearby areas for years. We know the region inside out and have seen first-hand what damage a car accident can bring to the victims and their families. If you decide to work with us, you will quickly realize that our number-one priority is to get you back on your feet and hold the people who did this to you responsible. All our efforts and resources are channeled to achieve that for you. We help you recover what you lost, steep medical bills, pain, suffering, lost wages, vehicle damage, other appropriate types of damage, such as loss of personal property.
It is beneficial for you to make a claim as early as possible; contact a Stockton car accident lawyer at Brown & Gessell for a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I sue a driver if they were distracted and caused injuries?
Yes, you can sue a driver if they were distracted and caused you any injury. California has laws related to distracted driving, including making it illegal to text or use your phone while driving. If you have sustained injuries due to the driver being distracted, call the Law Offices of Brown & Gessell. There is a possibility that you may have a valid claim and can claim compensation.
How to prove that the driver was distracted?
You can prove that the driver was distracted in many ways, starting with the scene at which the accident occurred. Any signs showing that they were not paying attention – phone, makeup, food in hand- should be noted, and you should take a photo as evidence. As lawyers, we can also obtain social media activity, obtain cell phone records and electronic activity to see the exact activity of the driver in moments leading up to the accident. Digital data captured by the vehicles can also provide evidence of the movements of the driver.