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Study linking car accidents and distractions is not encouraging

Recently, a young woman became distracted by her cell phone while driving and swerved to the right, striking a man on a bicycle. Trying to regain control, the woman overcorrected to the left, and her car collided with another man on a motorcycle. Both men died. Sadly, these kinds of car accidents are becoming more and more familiar to California law enforcement.

Despite elaborate public education campaigns, a study by the California Office of Traffic Safety showed that about 12.8 percent of drivers in the state use their cell phones behind the wheel. The authors of the study believe this is a very conservative number since it is not always easy to observe cell phone use in a vehicle. They admit that, with over 200 million smartphones in use, it seems like people cannot put them down, even when their lives are at stake.

The California Highway Patrol's own data supports the study's findings. Last year, over 900 more people died from accidents caused by distractions than in the prior two years. Officers see people using their phones behind the wheel every day, and they urge motorists to pull over if they need to use their electronic devices. Some suggest downloading an app that disables incoming messages when a person's vehicle reaches a certain speed.

While fines start at $150 for those caught using cell phones while driving, the real cost comes when distracted drivers cause car accidents that injure or kill others. Studies show that a person texting behind the wheel is six times more likely to be involved in an accident. Unfortunately, this also means that innocent victims are more likely to be injured by a distracted driver. When this happens, many find it helpful to have an experienced attorney on their side to work for their best interests.

Source: vcstar.com, "Number of motorists using cellphones and other electronic gear rising despite dangers", John Scheibe, July 11, 2016

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