Web Browsing and Driving: An Increasing Problem in California

A new study found that more and more drivers now use their cellphones to participate in web-related activities, like emailing, behind the wheel.

Distracted driving is a serious issue in California and throughout the country. Despite laws banning distracted driving-related activities that often result in serious injuries or fatalities and increased awareness of the dangers of distraction, a new study reveals that over the past six years, the number of drivers who use their smartphone behind the wheel has increased.

The rise in web-related activities

This study, which was conducted by State Farm, was designed to measure drivers' attitudes and behaviors towards distracted driving. Since the study began in 2009, the number of drivers who reported to talking on their cellphones while operating a vehicle decreased and the number of drivers who admitted to texting and driving remained stable. However, other smartphone-related activities increased significantly.

For example, in 2009, only 15 percent of participants reported that they read their email while they drove. However, in 2014, 25 percent of drivers admitted that they read their email and operated a vehicle simultaneously. Additionally, in 2009, 9 percent of participants reported that they browsed social media networks, like Twitter, as they operated a vehicle. Six years later, 20 percent of respondents admitted that they read social media sites behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Why have these behaviors increased?

According to USA Today, researchers are not sure why activities like emailing, browsing social media and accessing the Internet have increased amongst drivers. However, some believe that more and more drivers participate in web-based activities behind the wheel because they wrongly believe that they have available attention to devote to other activities in addition to driving.

Distracted driving laws in California

To prevent injurious and fatal car accidents, Distraction.gov states that it is illegal for all drivers in California to text and drive and to use a handheld device as they operate a vehicle. Both of these bans are primary laws, meaning that a law enforcement official can pull over a driver solely for cellphone use. Additionally, both handheld and hands-free cellphone activities are banned for novice drivers and for bus drivers.

Although these laws exist, many drivers, passengers and pedestrians in California and throughout the country are injured or killed in distracted driving-related collisions every day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, crashes that involve a distracted driver kill more than nine people and injure over 1,000 people in the U.S. daily. If you or one of your loved ones were injured in an accident caused by a negligent driver who chose to use his or her cellphone instead of focusing on driving, speak with an attorney in your area to find out what legal steps you should take next.

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