Tougher cellphone laws help reduce the number of distracted driving accidents. That's according to a recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) that examined California and other states with more comprehensive, precisely-worded cellphone laws.
"Our findings suggest that other states could benefit from adopting broader laws against cellphone use while driving, but more research is needed to determine the combination of wording and penalties that is most effective," said Ian Reagan, a senior research scientist at the IIHS.
Sweeping cellphone laws often prevent car accidents
The recent IIHS study focused on the effect of recently-adopted cellphone laws in California, Oregon, and Washington. In 2017, all three states adopted stricter cellphone laws to combat distracted driving accidents, especially texting and driving accidents. In particular, all three states banned using a handheld phone while driving.
Because police underreport many distracted driving accidents, IIHS researchers examined the number of distracted driving accidents since 2017. They also analyzed rear-end accidents because recent research shows rear-end collisions often involve cellphone use.
Since 2017, distracted driving accidents and rear-end accidents declined significantly in Oregon and Washington. Unfortunately, California did not experience similar success. IIHS researchers believe that's because California cellphone laws allow drivers to hold a phone while driving, which creates confusion among motorists and police.
California's cellphone laws
California has very strict laws designed to prevent texting and driving and other forms of distracted driving. Listed under California Vehicle Code (VC) 23123.5(a), drivers are prohibited from holding and operating a cellphone while driving. Instead, drivers can only use a cellphone while driving if voice commands can operate the wireless communication device.
In addition, California's cellphone law:
- Prohibits drivers from reading, writing, or sending text messages while driving.
- Bans drivers under 18 years old from using a cellphone for any reason while driving.
Even so, distracted driving accidents caused by drivers using a cellphone often occur in California. In particular, researchers estimate that 8 percent of all fatal car accidents in the state are caused by distracted drivers, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.
When to call a car accident attorney
Collisions caused by distracted drivers can quickly turn into complicated legal cases. That's because many drivers deny responsibility. In fact, they might even go so far as to blame you for the accident. Unfortunately, insurance companies aren't much better, either. Even if they don't dispute fault for the accident, it's common for insurance adjusters to question the severity of injuries and make lowball settlement offers.
At Clancy & Diaz, LLP, our distracted driving accident lawyers know how to handle complicated cases and get meaningful results for our clients. We know what evidence to look for and can take steps to access the at-fault driver's cellphone records, if necessary. In some cases, we may be able to secure traffic camera footage showing the other driver was distracted.
The key is to talk to an attorney from our law firm as soon as possible. When you have our legal team on your side, we will leave no stone unturned and fight for the compensation you deserve. In addition, we offer legal representation to personal injury victims on a contingency fee basis. That means you pay no fees unless we win your case.