These days it seems everyone has a cell phone. In fact, it is believed that there are more cell phones in the United States than people. Everywhere you look you are likely to see someone on their cell phone, and unfortunately this habit carries over to cell phone users who are driving, despite it being against the law.
The National Safety Council created the Annual Estimate of Cell Phone Crashes because it is believed that data about cell phone use contributing to crashes is being under-reported. The reason for this under-reporting may be linked to the fact that police typically have to rely almost entirely on the driver reporting whether or not they were on their cell phone at the time of the crash, or witness reports about the incident which may not always be reliable.
The NSC estimates include:
- The NSC model estimates 21% of crashes or 1.2 million crashes in 2012 involve talking on handheld and hands-free cell phones.
- The model estimates an additional 5% or more crashes or a minimum of 281,000 of crashes in 2012 involved text messaging.
- A total of a minimum of 26% of crashes involve drivers talking and texting on cell phones.
- NSC estimates that 11% of drivers at any given time are using their cell phone while driving.
State Laws on Cell Phone Usage
While cell phone laws may differ from state to state, California law is quite clear: it is illegal to use a handheld cell phone or to text while driving. Altogether, California has several laws banning the use of cell phones. As mentioned, the law prohibits all drivers from using handheld wireless phones or cell phones. However, a law specifically targets drivers under the age of 18 from using hands-free cell phones at all. The law does not apply to passengers who are free to use their cell phones, however, any driver in California, whether or not they reside in California, is subject to California’s cell phone laws.
A separate law prohibits texting while driving. Under this law, you may not write, send, or read text based communications while driving. This includes text messages, instant messages, and email.
California’s cell phone laws are not all that different from laws being enacted around the country. Many other states prohibit the use of handheld cell phones while driving and place restrictions on novice drivers. Cell phones have largely been supported by safety concerns. There is evidence to suggest that drivers who are using cell phones are more distracted which increases the risk of accidents.
There are a few exceptions to these laws in which it is not against the law to use a cell phone while driving:
- To make an emergency call to a law enforcement agency, medical provider, fire department, or other emergency service agency.
- By those operating authorized emergency vehicles.
- By those operating vehicles on private property.
For more information the California DMV has provided details on the prohibited use of handheld wireless devices.
Proving Liability in a Cell Phone Accident
It is not uncommon for an investigation to take place on the part of the police or legal representation to determine if the driver responsible for causing the accident was using a cell phone at the time the accident took place. Drivers, in an effort to protect themselves, may not readily admit that they were using their cell phone or texting, however, phone records can prove this was indeed the case as well as testimony from witnesses. A car accident attorney could subpoena cell phone records from defendant drivers to assist in proving liability in motor vehicle accidents.
If you have been the victim of a car accident and know or suspect that the other driver was negligently using their cell phone you need an experienced attorney that can help you prove your case. Cell phone auto accident cases may be difficult to prove but there is work that can be done to help improve the strength of your case and increase the odds of you receiving the best possible financial award for losses and injuries. Having an attorney knowledgable in the laws and regulations related to cell phone usage and driving is very important and should not be overlooked.
If you have questions we invite you to contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.