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People know distracted driving is a problem – but they still do it

California has some of the strictest driving laws in the country. Texting or talking on a handheld device are both primary traffic violations. That means a driver can be pulled over and cited even if they haven’t done anything else wrong. Drivers under 18 are prohibited from using a phone at all – even if they’re not holding one.

Nonetheless, distracted driving involving phones and other electronic devices is still prevalent – both on surface streets and freeways. In fact, according to a recent study by Travelers Insurance, dangerous distracted driving behaviors throughout the country have increased over the past five years. It’s likely no coincidence that crash fatality rates have risen as well.

Common – and dangerous – behaviors have increased

According to Travelers, the cellphone habit that has increased the most is looking at or posting on social media – up by 13%. There’s almost never a social media “emergency” that can’t wait until a driver can stop and park or at least pull off the road.

Other behaviors that have risen include:

  • Texting/emailing: up by 10%
  • Reading a text or email: up by 9%
  • Taking photos or videos: up by 9%

Interestingly, most people surveyed by Travelers (some 80%) say they believe distracted driving is a bigger problem than ever. In fact, 40% admitted to nearly being in a crash because of their own distracted driving and 12% said that their own distracted driving had caused a crash.

Companies are enacting their own restrictions on employees

The problem of drivers not following the law (where there is one) or simply doing what is extremely unsafe (and potentially costly in higher insurance rates) has gotten so bad that many companies are taking matters into their own hands. Over half of corporate executives surveyed said their companies had implemented a policy that prohibited employees driving for business from using handheld devices. One Travelers executive acknowledged the glaring contradiction the survey found. He noted that although “people are concerned about distracted driving, they are still unfortunately taking dangerous risks.”

While there’s nothing you can do to stop someone else on the road from talking, texting, posting on social media, making a video or joining a Zoom conference call, it’s important to know that if a driver causes a crash while doing these things, the authorities can likely determine what activity they were involved in at the time of the crash. This can help you seek compensation and justice if a distracted driver causes you harm. Having legal guidance will increase your chances of getting the maximum possible settlement under the circumstances.