Last week's post for this personal injury blog discussed new legislation that hopes to increase the fines issued to distracted drivers. As we mentioned last week, distracted driving is one of the top concerns that Californians have about safety on their highways. Surprisingly enough, Southern Californians don't seem to be changing their distracted driving practices because statistics show it is still on the rise. We are devoting another post to convincing any of our readers that might be on the fence that driving and talking on the phone or otherwise using your cell phone is increasingly dangerous to your safety.
A few years ago a study was published by a group of University of Utah psychologists that likened drivers talking on hands-free or handheld cell phones to drunk drivers! Orange County personal injury lawyers agree that this is a powerful comparison and drivers should take note. The study found that the distraction doesn't solely come from the driver operating their cell phone, whether handheld or hands-free, but it is the actual conversation the driver is having that can take their focus off the road and its conditions. It is enough of a distraction to warrant a driver acting as though intoxicated at the 0.08 blood alcohol content level.
Participants in the study were observed in a simulator under four different occasions, first free from distraction or impairment, second with a handheld cell phone, third while using a hands-free cell phone and fourth while intoxicated at the 0.08 BAC. They were asked to follow a simulated pace car. The study found that participants distracted by their phones were slow to brake, and were slower to get back up to normal speed after braking. The observations while drunk driving showed slight differences in aggressive driving. Researchers acknowledge that drivers have been distracted by many different multi-tasking jobs, i.e. applying makeup, eating, even just talking to passengers, but point out that distraction involved from using mobile phones is a greater danger.
Estimates in 2006 from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration show that eight percent of drivers are talking on a cell phone at any point in the daylight hours. This means that there are more cell phone impaired drivers on the streets then there are drunk drivers.
Johnson Attorneys Group has been handling auto accidents in and around Orange County for more than 12 years.