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Putting Lulz Over Life: Why Texting While Driving Is Dangerous and Costly

Did you know texting while driving causes impairment equal to that of driving while intoxicated? It’s true, and is evidence in the thousands of auto accident cases occurring annually in the State of California. In fact, the California Office of Traffic and Safety attributes approximately 3,000 accidents each year to texting while driving. We all know we shouldn’t do it, yet most of us have consented to quickly answering a text while on the road – reasoning it will only take a second and it just can’t wait.

It can wait.

National Texting and Driving Statistics

  •  In 2011, close to 23% of accidents occurring nationwide were attributing to the use of a handheld device;
  •  Experts believe the attention of the driver is diverted an average of five total seconds while sending a text message, which equates to driving the length of a football field without looking at the road (if traveling 55mph);
  •  Thirty-four percent of Americans have admitted to texting while driving; 52 percent admit to talking on the phone while driving;
  •  One in five drivers admit to cruising the internet while driving.

Civil Ramifications of Texting and Driving

Following a severe auto accident, it is not uncommon for law enforcement to subpoena the cell phone records of all drivers involved. Thanks to today’s technology, it is not difficult to determine whether the use of a handheld device was involved immediately prior to the crash, and it is often possible to review text message records down to the second each was sent or received. If you are involved in an auto accident and are thinking of pursuing the other driver based on a theory of distracted driving, these records could become the pivotal piece of evidence in your case.

Negligence law is based on acting reasonably. The court and jury will review the facts of your case in light of how a reasonably cautious person would act under the same or similar circumstances. The definition of “reasonable” is interpreted by the jury based on their own understanding and experiences, but one would be hard pressed to find any juror who would find texting and driving to be a reasonable activity. As such, if the phone records and other evidence points to a finding that the other driving was, in fact, distracted by a handheld device, you may be ultimately victorious in your claim.

Of course, evidence of texting and driving on your part can give rise to a comparative negligence defense by the defendant if the facts suggest perhaps you were the one distracted behind the wheel. Under California law, the court can adjust your verdict amount if it finds you to have contributed to your own injury. In the context of an auto accident, even if the defendant is almost entirely at fault, you could lose a portion of you verdict if the court also finds you were texting immediately prior to the collision.

Contact an Experienced Injury Attorney Today

If you have more questions about the impact of texting and driving, contact injury attorney Nelson C. Barry today.

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