The number of car accidents caused by distracted driving has reached epidemic levels nationally, as well as in the Bay Area. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, teenagers are a big part of the problem -- especially when it comes to texting and driving. In a recent survey of 15,000 high school students, around 58 percent of seniors admitted to emailing or texting while behind the wheel in the past month.
In an effort to address the problem and reduce car accidents, the federal government has given $1.5 million to the Sacramento area for advertising and increased police enforcement of laws aimed at preventing distracted driving. Extra officers will be paid to patrol just to enforce these laws. It is hoped the campaign will help reduce the number of car accidents that result from distracted driving.
Although the dangers of distracted driving are well known, California is only one of 39 states that currently bans texting and driving. California is also only one of 10 states that prohibit hand-held cell phone use while driving. Despite the state's laws, it's reported that 10.8 percent of California drivers are using their cell phones during daylight hours.
While it is hoped that this campaign will reduce the number of distracted drivers on the road, residents are questioning whether or not more stringent laws should be on the books. For example, would people treat laws aimed at distracted driving more seriously if the fines were higher, or if it were treated as seriously as drunk driving?
Despite the increase in advertisements and police patrols, car accidents resulting from distracted driving will undoubtedly continue. Those who have been the victim of such an accident may be entitled to file a claim against the responsible parties.
Source: The Legal Examiner, "California to get $1.5 million from Fed to curb distracted driving," Claude Wyle, Nov. 7, 2012