For more than a decade, California law (Section 23123) has prohibited drivers from using cellphones to talk or engage in text-based communication on public roads. Drivers are only allowed to use cellphones that are connected to hands-free devices or for emergency purposes. Drivers who are caught violating this law could face a $20 fine for a first offense and $50 fines for all subsequent offenses.
How effective has the hands-free law been at deterring distracted driving?
Despite California's decade-long hands-free law, drivers continue to pick up their cellphones behind the wheel. In April of 2019 alone, approximately 19,850 citations were issued by the California Highway Patrol to drivers who were caught with cellphones in their hands. This represented a 3.6 percent increase from the same period in 2018.
Those who drive distracted often do so when they don't think law enforcement is looking. In many cases, police are able to catch perpetrators and issue citations, but police can't be everywhere all the time.
Distracted driving is a growing public safety concern. This, despite the laws and public campaigns repeatedly driving the message to put down the cellphones. The number of citations issued, and the number of reported distracted driving crashes doesn't truly represent how large the problem is.
A new app could be the answer
TrueMotion is a tech startup based in Boston, Massachusetts. Since 2013, they have been working on developing accurate distracted driving algorithms. They did this by using various sensors that can track the movements and uses of cellphones.
Bloomberg reported on a recent study where TrueMotion determined just how many drivers pick up their cellphones, as well as how often they do. The tech company asked about 30,000 drivers to install the TrueMotion app throughout the duration of the study. People participated in exchange for insurance incentives.
The study found that for every 100 drivers:
- 30 were distracted less than 5% of the time
- 20 were distracted 5-10% of the time
- 15 were distracted 10-15% of the time
- 10 were distracted 15-20% of the time
- 7 were distracted 20-25% of the time
- 5 were distracted 25-30% of the time
- 3 were distracted 30-35% of the time
- 2 were distracted 35-40% of the time
- 1 was distracted 40-45% of the time
- 1 was distracted 45-50% of the time
After collecting driver data from Los Angeles and New York, TrueMotion compared the two cities in terms of distraction. Approximately 74 percent of Los Angeles drivers and 76 percent of New York drivers were found to not be distracted at all.
Among Los Angeles drivers who used wireless communication:
- 5% engaged in text-based communication or app use
- 13% used apps via hands-free devices
- 1% made phone calls while holding a cellphone
- 6% made phone calls via hands-free devices
What to do if you were hurt in a distracted driving crash
If you or a loved one was hurt in a crash with a distracted driver, your claim may be more complicated than you think. In many cases, the evidence is confirmed only when the at-fault driver admits to being distracted at the time of the crash. These crashes don't always involve electronic devices. Even when they do, proving negligence may require a thorough and aggressive investigation.
The car accident attorneys at Clancy & Diaz, LLP are experienced litigators who have successfully advocated for injured motorists for more than 10 years. To find out how we can help you maximize your compensation, contact our Walnut Creek law office online and schedule your free case evaluation.