Distracted driving refers to any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from the task of operating a vehicle safely. This can include actions like texting, talking on the phone, eating, adjusting the radio, or interacting with passengers while driving. There are three types of distractions, according to the NHTSA:

  • Visual distractions that cause people to take their eyes off the road. 
  • Cognitive distractions that divert people’s minds from driving safely. 
  • Manual distractions that cause people to take their hands off the wheel.

distracted driving causesSome distractions fall into all three categories. The best example is texting while driving. Not only does it distract a user’s visual senses, but it also causes them to take their hands off the wheel making them unable to steer correctly. That’s why texting while driving is one of the leading causes of driving accidents. 

Common distractions include: 

  • Using a cellphone without a hands-free device
  • Using a navigation app
  • Fatigue 
  • Personal grooming 
  • Engaging with other people on board the vehicle 
  • Playing around with the car’s accessories like the mirrors, AC and sound system

Groups Most at Risk for Distracted Driving 

All drivers are exposed to distractions when they get behind the wheel. However, some groups have a greater risk of driving distracted as outlined below.

The NHTSA reports that 6% of the people who died in distracted driving accidents in 2021 were teenagers (15-19 years old).

Young Drivers: Teenagers and young adults are particularly vulnerable to distracted driving due to their limited driving experience and increased use of technology. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of fatal crashes involving distracted driving. Inexperience combined with the temptation to use smartphones while driving makes this age group especially susceptible.

Commercial Drivers: Truck drivers and other professional drivers are often under pressure to meet tight deadlines, leading them to engage in distracting activities such as texting or making phone calls while driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) notes that commercial vehicle drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a safety-critical event compared to those who do not. The nature of their job requires them to spend long hours on the road, increasing their exposure to distractions.

Parents with Children: Parents driving with young children in the car may face distractions from attending to their children’s needs or behavior while driving. According to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, children are approximately 12 times more distracting to drivers than talking on a cell phone while at the wheel. The need to manage children’s behavior, settle disputes, or tend to their needs can divert the driver’s attention from the road, posing significant risks.

These groups are identified through various studies and statistical analyses conducted by organizations such as the CDC, FMCSA, and academic research institutions focusing on road safety.

Distracted Driving: A Concern that Keeps Growing

These statistics illustrate the extent of the problem: 

  • The NHTSA reports that 6% of the people who died in distracted driving accidents in 2021 were teenagers (15-19 years old).
  • 9 people a day are killed in distracted driving accidents in the U.S.
  • Sending a text or reading one will take your eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds. At 55 mph you’re covering over the length of a football field with all senses preoccupied.

Even worse, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a concerning surge in distracted driving accidents. According to the NHTSA, despite fewer vehicles on the road due to lockdowns and remote work arrangements, the rate of fatal crashes involving distracted driving increased by over 10% during the pandemic.

One reason for this alarming trend is the reliance on mobile devices for remote work, virtual meetings, and social interactions, leading to increased temptation for drivers to use their phones while driving. Additionally, the stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic may have heightened driver distraction, as individuals grapple with concerns about health, finances, and uncertainty about the future.

The combination of these factors underscores the urgent need for heightened awareness campaigns, stricter enforcement of distracted driving laws, and ongoing efforts to promote safe driving habits, particularly in the context of evolving societal challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

How to Prevent Distracted Driving Accidents

Most states, including California have taken steps to prevent distracted driving. Back in 2008, California banned drivers from talking on their cell phones while driving, which was then followed in 2009 with a ban on texting

Massive information campaigns have also been launched to educate drivers about the dangers of distractions. The NHTSA asks that people spread the word among drivers they know and social networks. Parents also need to educate teens about the risks associated with distracted driving. Of course, leading by example is what works best. 

On a personal level, individuals should take the following steps to prevent distracted driving accidents: 

  • If you are feeling sleepy, park your vehicle at the side of the road to take a nap. If you suspect that driving is going to be an issue, call a cab. 
  • Cell phones should only be used in an emergency. Make sure to move the vehicle to a safe spot if you need to take or make a call. 
  • Limit the number of passengers in your car and have clear rules about the activities in the vehicle. 
  • Refrain from eating or drinking while driving.

It’s Illegal to Text and Drive in Los Angeles 

Texting and driving is illegal throughout California and 47 other states. The penalty for texting while driving in the Golden State is $150 for the first offense. For a subsequent offense, the fine is $250 per ticket. And if you receive a cell phone ticket within 36 months of a prior conviction, the DMV will add one point to your driving record. Drivers under 18 are held to the same standard.

If you were in an accident caused by a driver who was texting, a car accident lawyer can help you obtain phone records and reconstruct the accident to prove liability.

Additionally, a texting citation is going to be reported to the driver’s insurance company leading to a hike in their insurance premiums. Like all other citations, if you accumulate enough points, it can lead to a suspension of the person’s license.

When Should You Sue the Responsible Driver? 

The distracted driver’s insurance company will most likely make you a low offer for your injuries, regardless of how serious they are. If you were badly injured in the accident, that offer probably won’t cover much, leaving you in a financial hole at the worst possible time. To avoid this nightmare scenario, you must sue them to recover damages for your medical bills, lost income and pain and suffering.

And if you’re worried about paying a personal injury lawyer, know that most work on a contingency basis. That simply means they get paid from a percentage of your settlement or verdict. You don’t have to worry about any legal fees or out-of-pocket expenses.

Seek Compensation for a Distracted Driving Accident 

The Dominguez Firm has been helping distracted driving accident victims for over 30 years. Let us do the same for you. If you suffered serious injuries due to someone else’s distracted driving, contact The Dominguez Firm right away for a free consultation at (800) 818-1818.

Our experienced personal injury attorneys will fight to get you the highest compensation possible for your injuries. Plus, all of our cases are backed by our no recovery, no fee guarantee. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain, so call us today!

My experience was good. They made sure to kept me in the loop and made sure to let me know what was going on the whole time. My mom has used other attorneys and this experience was beyond better. I would definitely recommend them!

— Ashley Magana

The attorneys were always available and answered my questions. I would recommend them to anyone. Zoe is the best!

— Janet Salazar

My experience with The Dominguez Firm and the attorneys was really good. They were very informative and always returned my calls.

— Jocelyn Gonzalez