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There are more than 222 million licensed drivers in the United States and 26.2 million licensed in California alone. Amongst the millions of accidents that take place each year, distracted-driving-related accidents are undoubtedly a significant factor in in recent years. Texting maintains a heavy influence in everyday culture which ultimately requires visual attention to one’s cell phone screen and away from the road which creates a risky distraction while behind the wheel. Even worse, many youths prefer texting to calling which essentially eliminates the benefits of “hands-free calling”.  More specifically, there have been astounding statistics related to cellphone use while driving and texting accidents that have led to many new laws and penalties for doing it.

More specifically, in 2017, the National Safety Council estimated that there were more than 1.6 million vehicle accidents that were directly related to cell phone use while driving.  Of those 1.6 million accidents, more than 330,000 of those accidents were directly related to texting. According to a recent survey the average American sends approximately 94 text messages per day and far too many of those texts are sent and received while many Americans are behind the wheel of a car. In fact, numbers suggest that one out of every four car accidents in the United States are caused by texting and driving.  Even worse, numbers estimate that every single day at least 11 people are killed in accidents attributed to driving and texting!

Of those 1.6 million accidents, more than 330,000 of those accidents were directly related to texting.

Due to the significant increase in texting and driving related accidents have become a hot-button issue and forced California Governor Jerry Brown to sign a law ultimately banning anyone from holding a cell phone while driving in January 2017.  California has moved forward with proposing additional bills and laws preventing licensed drivers from texting and driving. Previously, the Wireless Communications Device Law, which was signed into legislature in 2009 by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, stated that, “NO DRIVER in California may write, send, or read text messages while behind the wheel.” Ultimately, the government has taken notice of the problem and is finally beginning to enforce laws to increase passenger safety on the road.

…every single day at least 11 people are killed in accidents attributed to driving and texting!

In California, there are strict penalties for being caught texting and driving.  In the state of California, the first penalty for texting and driving begins with a $20 base fine; however, a second penalty is increased to a $50 base fine. The total a fine can amount to in court varies by person, however they traditionally begin at $150.00 and have the likelihood of exceeding that amount.  Despite the fact that there are small monetary fines imposed by the government, if serious damage is caused by your negligence from texting while driving, you could be liable for thousands of dollars in damages and even be sanctioned or fined further by the DMV.

In summation, although we enjoy the comfort of texting, the risks associated with texting while sitting behind the wheel is not worth `becoming another statistic. A campaign has been launched by multiple telephone carries informing the public that “it can wait” “No call or text is worth your life,” and even new IPhone’s offer a “Do Not Disturb” feature specifically for users while driving.   Please do remember to always buckle up, drive safe and refrain from texting while you are driving, it can wait!

-Hasan Barakat and Kevin Lipton, ESQ

Lipton Legal Group, A PC – Beverly Hills, CA