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Drivers Must Keep Their Minds on the Road for Safety

Distracted Driving Continues to be a Problem

Distracted driving has become a prominent target for organizations such as the California Office of Traffic Safety (COTS), the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Through their efforts, the public is becoming better informed about the dangers of distracted driving, including talking on a cell phone or texting while behind the wheel.

According to the NHTSA, in 2009 over 400,000 people were injured in traffic accidents attributable to distracted driving, amounting to about one-fifth of all traffic accident injuries. That same year, over 5,000 people were killed in accidents involving distracted drivers.

According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), the risk of getting into a crash while text messaging is 23 times as great as when not distracted. Also, the University of Utah reports that driving while engaged in any kind of cell phone use, even hands-free, produces an increase in driver reaction time equivalent to driving at the legal intoxication limit, .08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC). And in the time it takes to receive or send a typical text message, a motorist’s eyes are off the road for about 4.6 seconds; in that amount of time, a car going at 55 mph travels the length of a football field, according to VTTI.

In partnership with CHP and COTS, a Sacramento television station has been promoting safety through education about distracted driving. On a ride-along with a Sacramento Fire Department chief, a reporter for News10 discovered an additional kind of threat from distracted drivers. Besides becoming directly involved in collisions, these drivers can impede the progress of emergency vehicles. The fire chief remarked on the frustration paramedics and firefighters feel when a car will not pull over to allow them to pass, as required by law. He found it especially disturbing that drivers who ignore an emergency vehicle coming up behind them — flashing lights, siren and all — are often found to be engaged in a cell phone conversation.

Clearly, a driver whose mind is on a cell phone conversation or composing and reading text messages is a danger to other motorists on the road. Besides all the safety considerations, CHP reminds drivers that it is illegal in California for anyone to talk on a handheld cell phone while driving.

Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney if you have been involved in an accident with a distracted driver.