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The Dangers of Distracted Driving in California

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Everyone always talks about how horrible drunk driving is but far less is mentioned about the dangers and repercussions of distracted driving, which is as dangerous and even more common than drunk driving.

Distracted driving in California isn’t a new thing. For as long as people have been getting behind the wheel of automobiles, there have been distracted drivers. Examples of distracted driving include:

✽ Daydreaming
✽ Arguing with passengers
✽ Rubbernecking
✽ Trying to pick up a candy bar you’ve dropped
✽ Changing radio stations
✽ Using your cell phone

Distracted driving can result in a number of things going wrong. A single second of distracted driving can result in:

✽ Weaving in and out of your lane
✽ Striking another car/pedestrian
✽ Missing a road sign
✽ Running a red light
✽ Etc.

Over the past twenty years or so, distracted driving has become a much bigger problem. Data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association indicates that distracted driving results in approximately 1,000 injuries every single day and approximately 9 deaths a day. Many of these distracted driving accidents involved a cell phone.

In California, when someone is pulled over for distracted driving and issued a citation, the ticket usually doesn’t say distracted driving, even though that’s usually the cause of the incident. The ticket usually states the effect. For example, if you were playing with your dog who was in the shotgun seat and run a red light, the ticket will likely state reckless driving or failure to yield rather than distracted driving.

If your distracted driving results in an injury or death to another person, the citation may be the least of your worries. When someone is hurt or killed as a result of a distracted driving episode, you could find yourself acting as the defendant in a civil case.

In an effort to lower the number of distracted driving incidents in California, the state has introduced the Just Drive campaign. The idea of the Just Drive campaign is to educate/remind drivers about the dangers of using a cell phone while you’re behind the wheel. Everybody involved in the campaign hopes that the program will remind drivers about how deadly answering a single text or taking a long call can be.

California’s “Just Drive” campaign is quite similar to earlier efforts to reduce the number of drivers who use their cell phones while they’re behind the wheel, but this campaign is geared specifically towards younger drivers who are between the ages of 16 and 24.

In California, you’re not allowed to have your cell phone in your hand while you’re driving. While everyone would prefer it if you simply didn’t use your cell phone at all during your commute, you are allowed to use it provided it’s set to hands-free mode, mounted on your dash or windshield, and can be turned on and off by a single finger touch.

The best way to avoid being the cause of a distracted driving incident is to keep your eyes and mind on the road.

Distracted Driving in 2021

Distracted Driving in 2021

Distracted Driving in 2021

Most of us are familiar with drunk driving and know that it’s something we should avoid. Few of us know about distracted driving. Distracted driving is exactly what it sounds like. If you’re ticketed for distracted driving, it means that rather than paying attention to the road, the bulk of your attention was focused on something else.

Most distracted driving tickets are issued because the driver was using their cell phone while driving, but you can be ticketed for getting in an argument with your passengers, trying to set your navigation system while your vehicle is in motion, or even trying to mop up coffee that you’ve spilled all over yourself.

Distracted driving became a thing when manufacturers started installing radios in cars and people started getting into accidents because they were changing the station rather than watching the road. Today, cell phones are the biggest source of distracted driving. Stats indicate that sending a short text while you’re behind the wheel means your 23 times more likely to get into an accident. Many of these distracted driving accidents end with someone getting hurt.

California drivers have been getting distracted driving tickets for several years, but now that 2021 has begun, those tickets are a much bigger issue.

California law refers to distracted driving as “anything that takes your eyes or mind off the road, or hands off the steering wheel – especially when texting or using your phone.”

The tweaks made to the distracted driving law in 2021 focus exclusively on anyone who is using their cell phone while they are behind the wheel.

The first time you’re caught using a cell phone while driving, you’ll be issued a ticket for $162. Any distracted driving tickets you collect after that first one will cost a whopping $285. If you get two or more tickets that are connected to using a cell phone while driving, the state will add a point to your license. Too many points and the state could suspend your driver’s license.
If you’re in an accident or cause a moving violation while you’re driving, the police officer will likely write additional tickets. When all is said and done, deciding to answer a text message while you’re behind the wheel could destroy several months of careful budgeting.

At this point, you will only receive a distracted driving ticket if you are using your hands to operate your cell phone. Hands-free phone operation is still allowed.

Tougher distracted driving penalties are just one of the changes drivers will encounter during 2021.