Distracted driving was an issue even before the advent of hand-held devices. Factors like a bad day at work, fatigue, or even noisy children can all pull a driver’s attention away from the road. However, recent data shows that an increasing number of drivers in California and nationwide are texting or emailing while driving, which creates a very real danger for anyone else sharing the road.

For example, several tests have measured the reaction times of drivers responding to red lights while using hand-held devices. The results suggest that emailing or texting while driving can delay driver reaction times comparable to driving while under the influence of alcohol. In one test, drivers took four times longer to hit the brake when reading emails or texts. In a finding by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a driver using a hand-held cell phone may be up to 4 times more likely to cause a crash.

According to a recent estimate by The National Safety Council, more than 20% of all traffic crashes in 2011 involved distracted drivers using cell phones. That amounts to more than 1 million accidents. Of that number, most were talking, while about 100,000 drivers were texting. Given those numbers, it’s no surprise that the secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation considers distracted driving to be a serious problem on America’s roadways.

No one should have to share the road with a distracted driver. In California, victims of accidents caused by negligent drivers have the right to bring a civil action to recover for lost income, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other monetary damages. An attorney can explain the evidence you will need to present to a jury so that jurors may understand your version of events and return a verdict in your favor.

Source: Heavy Duty Trucking, “DOT: States to Get $17.5 Million to Fight Distracted Driving,” Aug. 23, 2012