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April Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

As San Diego injury lawyers, we want to alert our readers that April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. To help deter crashes and raise awareness, law enforcement will be stepping up enforcement in San Diego and across the country. This effort is part of the national U Drive. U Text. U Pay campaign, which will take place from April 10 to April 15, 2015.

As a reminder, California law prohibits drivers from using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle unless the device is being used in hands-free mode. Drivers under the age of 18 are subject to a complete cell phone ban.

Despite tougher laws, distracted driving continues to claim thousands of lives every year. In 2013, 3,154 people were killed and an estimated additional 424,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. While the number of fatalities did decrease over 2012 figures, distracted driving still contributes to a significant number of crashes. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, approximately 80 percent of traffic collisions involve some type of distraction.

While driver distractions can range from programming a GPS to eating a sandwich, cell phone use remains the biggest culprit. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration found that, in any given daylight moment, 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or other electronic devices while driving. Because it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, texting is among the most dangerous distracted driving behaviors.

“Imagine driving for four or five seconds while blindfolded. That can be the effect of looking down to send a text message. In the average time it takes to check a text message — less than five seconds — a car travelling 60 mph will travel more than the length of a football field,” National City police Sgt. Jeffrey Meeks told CBS8.com.

Staying focused behind the wheel is particularly important for teen drivers. As we discussed last week, a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that distraction contributed to 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes, which is four times higher than previous estimates.