Drivers in California are likely aware that it is unlawful to be texting or talking on a handheld phone. We have seen marketing efforts, educational campaigns and new technology aimed at keeping our hands, eyes and focus away from our phones. Unfortunately, not every driver takes the message that distracted driving is dangerous very seriously.
In fact, it is not uncommon to see multiple drivers talking on their phones every day in Los Angeles. These drivers may be purposely ignoring the laws or they fail to recognize the risks associated with using a phone while driving. People think they can pick up a phone or check a text really quickly and still be a completely safe driver. Even seeing the tragic consequences of this behavior is not enough to persuade some drivers to leave their phones alone while driving.
For example, news crews spotted several people who were back on their cellphones on the very same road where four pedestrians had been struck, and one killed, by a driver who was reaching her for phone just hours earlier. This behavior would suggest that there are some drivers who do not realize that they can cause an accident when they are not focused on driving, even when the aftermath a distracted driving crash is still being cleared from the road around them.
Like other accidents, the recent crash involving the four pedestrians could have been prevented. The 19-year-old driver swerved and hit the pedestrians when she took her eyes off the road to try and find her cellphone. She wasn't talking on it, texting on it or sending a message; she was just looking for it. Had she waited to get her phone until she arrived at her destination, the pedestrians would likely never have been hit.
Drivers who are distracted by their phones pose a very real threat to other people on the road, especially pedestrians. If a driver is focused on looking for a phone, reading an email or dialing a phone number, he or she is not adequately aware of what is going on outside of the vehicle. A driver can miss traffic signals, swerve out of a lane or fail to see someone crossing the road. In any of these scenarios, the results can be catastrophic and victims or their families may have grounds to file a legal claim against a reckless or negligent party.
Source: CBS Sacramento, "Manteca Drivers Glued To Cellphones Hours After Teen Dies In Distracted Driving Incident," April 19, 2014