California Texting While Driving: More Dangerous than Drinking and Driving

texting 2.jpgThere have been several serious car accidents involving catastrophic injury and death in California. Most recently, the plastic surgeon for the stars, Frank Ryan, M.D., died after he drove his car over a cliff while texting about his dog.

Recent studies have shown that texting while driving impairs a driver more than drinking alcohol. This is not to say that driving under the influence is a good idea; but to emphasis the danger of driving while texting or speaking on a cell phone. Car and Driver magazine ran braking tests comparing a man who was driving with a blood alcohol of .08 versus a man texting. The inebriated man stopped 4 feet beyond his baseline performance. Drivers who were texting stopped anywhere from 70 feet to 319 feet beyond their baseline.

Texting while driving is against the law in California (Vehicle Code section 23123). As an Oakland personal injury lawyer, I see that more and more car accidents are being caused by texting. Since texting while driving is a violation of law, a person is presumed negligent if their texting causes an accident. California law holds also that a drunk driver can be held liable for punitive damages for driving under the influence since he drives with a conscious disregard for the safety of the public. Perhaps, texting drivers will also be liable for punitive damages since the dangers appear to be worse and and the risks are now well known.

Resources:

Los Angeles Times, Texters, you’d be better off driving drunk Studies show that driving while texting is more dangerous than driving under the influence. Our laws and penalties don’t reflect that, October 3, 2010

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