Six years ago, California banned drivers from using handheld cell phones. Since that law was passed, 13 states have also passed laws forbidding drivers from using handheld cell phones. However, researchers have recently released a study which evaluated daily accidents in California in 2008 showing that the accident rate during the six months before the ban was the same as the accident rate for the six months following the ban. However, a different study commissioned by the state in 2012 found that the death rate was cut in half after the ban.

This most recent study has been discounted by California traffic safety officials, who say the study was not very thorough. Other experts argue that more reckless drivers who are likely to get into accidents were also likely to ignore the ban and continue to use their cell phones. Some researchers argue that handheld cell phones aren’t as risky as some previous studies have suggested, claiming that it’s the conversation that actually serves as the distraction, not holding the cell phone. Many people use Bluetooth or other hands-free devices, which can also be extremely distracting. Studies have shown that hands-free cell phones are not substantially safer than hand-held phones.

The bottom line is that any behavior that takes your time and attention away from the road is a danger, including not only cell phones, but also using a GPS, watching a movie, adjusting a radio, grooming, talking to passengers or eating. If you take your eyes off the road for five seconds while driving at 55 miles per hour, you can cover the length of a football field without being aware of what is on the road. In 2012, the last year for which statistics are available, 3,328 people were killed in distraction-affected crashes. Another 421,000 were injured in distraction-related accidents. At any given daylight moment in the U.S., about 660,000 people are using cell phones or other electronic devices while driving.

Teens and young adults are among the most easily distracted. About 10 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the accident. Drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes. Unfortunately, a quarter of teens respond to a text at least once every time they drive.

If you are the parent of a teen, it’s critical that you let him or her know how dangerous texting and driving is. Teens do not have the driving experience that adults do, and are less able to handle distractions while driving. There are many apps and programs provided through both cell phone providers and cell phones that will disable the texting feature while driving. A serious or fatal accident can not only affect your family or another family for the rest of your lives, it can also be extremely costly for the parents of a teen involved in a distracted driving crash.

Teens aren’t the only ones who talk on the phone or text while driving, even in spite of the ban. Driving while distracted is extremely dangerous for adults too. If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by distracted driving, you have legal rights against the driver. You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, damages to your vehicle, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Other family members may also be entitled to compensation from the accident as well.

If you have been involved in an automobile accident and aren’t sure what steps you need to take to seek compensation, call San Francisco automobile accident attorney Micha Star Liberty of Liberty Law. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that every accident victim should fight for the compensation to which he or she is entitled. Call Liberty Law today at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000 to schedule your free consultation.

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