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Cell Phone Use by California Drivers Rising Despite Distraction Risks

Due to the dangers of distracted driving, California has implemented three laws to address this safe issue. Vehicle Code Section 23123(a) prohibits adults, 18 and older, from driving and talking on a non-hands free cell phone/device. Vehicle Code Section 23123.5 prohibits texting while driving, and 23124 prohibits teens under the age of 18 from driving while talking on a cell phone.

However, the number of California drivers who use cell phones behind the wheel is on the rise, despite mounting evidence of the risks of distracted driving. The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) study also found that fewer drivers believe that talking or texting on a cell phone is a major safety problem.

The results of the study are clearly concerning. In 2015, 11,090 drivers were killed or injured in collisions in which distracted driving was a factor.

The OTS cell phone use study highlights why distracted driving crashes continue to increase. An estimated 12.8 percent of California drivers were observed using a mobile device during the day, up from 9.2 percent in 2015. The April 2016 cell phone usage tops the previous high of 10.8 percent in 2013. Given the difficulty of observing mobile device use in a vehicle, the OTS believes that the actual usage is likely several points higher.

Below are the study’s other key findings:

  • Though nearly all types of usage were up, typing and posting increased by more than one third.
  • The highest observed electronic device use and the fastest increase in usage is in urban areas, at 9.4 percent.
  • Electronic device use during rush hours increased by 71 percent in 2016.
  • The percentage of 16-24 year-olds talking on hand-held cell phones increased from less than 1 percent every year since 2012 to more than 2 percent in 2016.
  • Southern California drivers hold the phone to their ear at a rate double (3.8 percent) that of Central California drivers (1.9 percent) and Northern California drivers (1.4 percent).

“These latest numbers are discouraging, but not totally unexpected,” said OTS Director Rhonda Craft. “The number of smartphones in the United States has gone from zero, 10 years ago, to over 200 million today. They have become so much a part of our lives that we can’t put them down, even when we know the danger.”

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a California car accident caused by a negligent driver, don’t hesitate to contact a personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation. Relying on more than 30 years of legal experience, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of California injury victims.