Eyes On The Road: How To Drive Focused And Avoid Deadly Distracted Driving
Keep your eyes on the road.
It’s a simple message for national Distracted Driving Awareness Month but one that can save lives, injuries from crashes, and also help avoid harsh penalties in California.
More than 3,000 people are killed each year in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That means on average, eight people are killed and hundreds more are injured in distraction-affected crashes. In California, nearly 19,000 crashes from distracted driving resulted in 108 deaths and more than 13,500 injuries.
“Driving is dangerous, period, and requires full attention always,” said Matt Clark, Chain | Cohn | Clark attorney and partner. “Driving while distracted, much like driving impaired, puts you and others on the road at risk. So, let’s put down our devices, and eliminate dangerous behavior on our roadways.”
Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that automobile deaths in the United States are higher now than any year since 2006, when federal officials began tracking the statistics. Safety experts blame the rising deaths on reckless drivers speeding, impaired driving, and distracted driving, among other factors. And they call it a national crisis and emergency.
Distractions are not limited to cell phones, either. Other electronics, children, pets, and eating or drinking while driving can also divert attention and result in a crash. In fact, distraction plays a role in nearly six out of 10 teen crashes, with the top distractions for teens include talking to other passengers in the vehicle and interacting with a smartphone.
Under California law, drivers are not allowed to hold a phone or electronic communications device while operating a vehicle. This includes talking, texting, or using an app. Using a handheld cell phone while driving is punishable by a fine. Violating the hands-free law for a second time within 36 months of a prior conviction for the same offense will result in a point being added to a driver’s record. In 2021, CHP issued more than 55,800 citations for distracted driving.
Locally, Bakersfield Police Department is conducting a distracted driving enforcement period through April 29. Meanwhile, the California Highway Patrol is offering a free class for teen drivers and their parents to help families learn about safe driving habits and how to handle stress when behind the wheel. In addition, two dates (April 1 and 15) have been earmarked as special statewide education and enforcement days for all law enforcement agencies that are participating in the traffic safety campaign.
Follow these safety tips for a safe ride every time:
- If using a navigation system, program the destination before driving.
- Place your mobile device out of sight to prevent temptation, perhaps in the trunk, glove box, or back seat.
- Need to send a text? Pull over and park your car in a safe location. Only then is it safe to send or read a text.
- Designate your passenger as your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
- Activate “Do Not Disturb.” Setting up this feature on iPhone or Android device will prevent calls from coming in while you’re driving.
- Do not scroll through apps, including social media, while driving. Cell phone use can be habit-forming. Struggling to not text and drive? Put the cell phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of the vehicle until you arrive at your destination.
- Remind your friends and family: If you’re in the driver’s seat, it’s the only thing you should be doing. No distractions.
- If your driver is texting or otherwise distracted, tell them to stop and focus on the road.
- Ask your friends to join you in pledging not to drive distracted. You could save a life. Share your pledge on social media to spread the word — #JustDrive.
- Drowsy driving is distracted driving, so never drive when you’re too tired.
- Properly secure your kids or pets. Make sure everyone is properly buckled in and retrained.
- Just as drivers need to pay attention, so do pedestrians and bicyclists. Never call, text or play games while walking or cycling.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke while driving.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE IN AN ACCIDENT
If you are involved in a car accident, follow these three steps:
1) Obtain the name, address, insurance information, vehicle identification number (VIN) and driver’s license number of any and all persons involved in the accident, as well as the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all witnesses.
2) Make sure that a report is filed with the police, sheriff, or highway patrol, but do not talk to anyone else, especially insurance adjusters, about the accident or sign anything without first consulting an attorney.
3) Seek medical attention immediately and explain to your physician or surgeon all of the symptoms and complaints you have been feeling since the accident occurred.
If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.