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Increased distracted driving could lead California car accidents

It is difficult to fathom that 10 years ago, there were no smartphones. Now, some estimates indicate that there are over 200 million in this country. These devices have many valuable purposes, making it much easier for people to communicate and keep track of activities and tasks. Unfortunately, the use of cellphones while driving can also result in serious car accidents, and a recent California survey indicates that distracted driving is on the rise in 2016.

The study was conducted in March and involved 17 counties in California. It was based on observing whether individuals were using their cellphones while driving. The results indicate that approximately 13 percent of California drivers were using their cellphones illegally. In California, cellphone use is allowed through the use of hands-free technology or with simple one-swipe or tap operations on a device that is mounted on the dash.

The number shows a 4 percent increase from numbers in 2015 and is 2 percent higher than 2013, the year with the previous high. While the high number is in itself concerning, officials note that it is difficult to observe cellphone use in vehicles. As result, the percentage of distracted drivers is likely higher than this survey indicates.

Unfortunately, over 11,000 people in California were killed or injured as a result of car accidents caused by distracted drivers. While police and other officials work to educate the public about the potential dangers of cellphone use while driving and have issued almost 13,500 citations, innocent lives are being completely altered as a result of negligent and illegal behavior. For these victims -- including surviving family members in the event of a fatality -- there are legal options available that could potentially ensure that drivers engaging in distracted driving are held responsible for their actions.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "More California drivers driving while texting, talking on cellphones", Tony Bizjak, June 22, 2016

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