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OC Sheriff’s Department Ramps up Battle with Distracted Driving

By Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie on March 27, 2020

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The Orange County Sheriff’s Department is cracking down on distracted driving, as stated in its January 7, 2020 press release. In order to deter dangerous driving practices, the Department is requiring deputies to concentrate their patrols on identifying and pulling over drivers who use their phones while driving. While the fines for this crime are still rather low, the Department hopes that aggressive enforcement will help reduce distracted driving accidents.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving can be defined as any activity that diverts the driver’s attention away from operating a motor vehicle. It may involve eating or drinking, talking to passengers, adjusting the stereo, fixing your hair, applying makeup, or operating the navigation system.

But cell phone use is the number one distraction and the main target of the Sheriff’s Department in its campaign against distracted driving in Orange County. On average, sending or reading a text takes the driver’s eyes off the road for five seconds, per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is just enough time for a catastrophic accident to occur.

Distracted Driving Statistics

3,166 people in the U.S. were killed in distracted driving accidents in a single recent year. The following data was provided to NHTSA by the annual National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) regarding driver electronic device use in 2018:

  • 2% of drivers were talking with cell phones held to their ears – up from 2.9% the previous year.
  • 1% of drivers were visibly manipulating handheld devices – an increase from 2.0% in 2017.
  • 9% of drivers ages 16 to 24 were holding phones to their ears.
  • 2% of drivers ages 16 to 24 were visibly manipulating handheld devices.
  • Only 0.35% of drivers were speaking with visible headsets on while driving – down from 0.45% the previous year.

The rise in smart phone use and the trends demonstrated in this report suggest that distracted driving accidents will only increase in the coming year unless law enforcement double their efforts to combat this practice and everyday drivers take their own steps to control their own behavior.

Distracted Driving Is Completely Avoidable

With people so electronically connected in the 21st Century, it is a natural impulse to answer a call or read a text when driving. But, under California law, drivers are required to resist that impulse, unless they are using a hands-free device to manage calls. As the Sheriff’s Department points out, a driver’s focus should be on the road. Period. If an important call or message comes in, there is always the option to pull over into a safe parking space to answer it. For drivers who have trouble resisting the desire to use their phone, the Sheriff’s Department recommends silencing their phones or putting them somewhere out of reach.

Recovering After a Distracted Driving Accident

Distracted driving is a very real risk to Orange County drivers and can put other motorists at risk of catastrophic injuries. Following an accident, you may be in shock, anxious, and even angry. Above all else, ensuring that you are properly taken care of, especially if you are suffering from paralysis or chronic pain, should be your top priority. Your best chance of recovering the maximum available compensation is to have an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney by your side. Contact Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie at (949) 752-7474 if you have been a victim of a serious car accident with a distracted driver.

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Posted in: Car Accidents


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