Magana Cathcart & McCarthy

Driving and Talking or Texting Causes Accidents

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We Know Driving and Talking or Texting Causes Accidents, So Why Haven’t Cell  Phone Bans Had an Impact?

In an effort to make roads and highways safer for all drivers, many states across the country have enacted cell phone bans prohibiting the use of handheld devices for talking or texting while operating a motor vehicle. California’s cell phone laws went into effect on July 1, 2008, and its text messaging law went into effect on January 1, 2009. Policymakers pushed for these laws based on the generally accepted theory that cell phone use and text messaging result in inattentive driving and contribute to the high number of car accidents in the United States.

Many were surprised when several news sources, including CNN and NPR, reported a study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), concluding that cell phone laws have not reduced the rate of accidents in four states with cell phone bans in place, including California. This does not mean, however, that cell phone use does not cause car accidents. According to a 2010 National Safety Council study, nearly 30 percent of traffic accidents occur because people talk on cell phones or send text messages while driving. The president of the HLDI himself said, “…the new findings don’t match what we already know about the risk of phoning and texting while driving.”

One reason the HLDI and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) believe that cell phone laws have not reduced traffic accident numbers is that people are simply using hands-free devices, which are not banned in any state. The HLDI says that the risk of crashing while using a hands-free phone and holding a phone are actually about the same.

Last month, the NHTSA addressed driver distraction caused by built-in dashboard electronics, which often include Bluetooth and other devices that allow for hands-free communication.  The guidelines produced, however, only address manual and visual distraction. As more studies link communication distraction to auto accidents, policymakers may push to ban hands-free devices as well as handheld cell phone use.

Talk to an Experienced Los Angeles Auto Accident Lawyer

The personal injury attorneys at Magaña, Cathcart & McCarthy have a long history of obtaining substantial recoveries on behalf of Los Angeles car accident victims. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a driver whom you believe was talking or texting on a cell phone, even if it was a hands-free device, please contact our offices. During a free initial consultation, you can speak with a knowledgeable Los Angeles injury attorney about your specific case.

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