‘U Drive U Text U Pay’: Officials cracking down on dangerous distracted driving

October 7, 2020 | 10:05 am


At any given moment across the United States, about 660,000 drivers are using electronic devices while driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And on a typical day, more than 700 people are injured in distracted driving crashes. Even more, nearly 3,000 people are killed and an estimated 400,000 are injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

Simply, distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on America’s roadways because distracted drivers aren’t just a threat to themselves, they’re a danger to everyone else on the road.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is joining national distracted driving efforts focusing on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness, and education.

“Talking on a phone, even while using a hands-free device, or texting or using an infotainment system in your vehicle diverts your attention away from driving,” said Chain | Cohn | Stiles managing partner and attorney David Cohn. “Please focus on the road, and just drive.”

Locally, Bakersfield Police Department is stepping up patrols in search of distracted drivers in support of the NHTSA’s “U Drive U Text U Pay” enforcement campaign, according to the department. BPD is joining other law enforcement agencies across California in increase enforcement of distracted driving laws. In particular, officers will be looking out for drivers who break the state’s hands-free cellphone law.

Distracted driving is especially dangerous for younger drivers. In fact, drivers 15 to 19 years old are involved in more fatal crashes involving distractions than any other age group. To help, Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently awarded 11 drivers education scholarships as part of the new “Guided Partners in Safety (GPS) Scholarship” program aimed to help pay for student driver’s education training, while keeping safety at the forefront.

California law prohibits all motorists from using a cellphone while driving, except when used in hands-free mode. A first offense results in a $20 fine, and for a second or subsequent offense, the fine is $50. For violations that occur on or after July 1, 2021, the DMV will assess one point if the violation was within 36 months of a prior conviction. Emergency service professionals are exempt from the cellphone ban while operating an authorized emergency vehicle.

Here’s what you can do to eliminate distracted driving from your travels (courtesy of AARP).

  • Unplug: Keep your cell phone on silent and where you can’t see it light up for every notification you receive. If a phone call or text message is really important, it’s best to pull over into a safe location before using your phone.
  • Refuel: Drowsy driving is distracted driving, so never drive when you’re too tired.
  • Focus: When you’re behind the wheel, pay attention to what’s happening all around your vehicle. Frequently scan your mirrors and watch your speed.
  • Secure your cargo: Prevent loose items in your car from startling you in the event of sudden braking by securing your cargo. Also, never place smaller items on your lap or on the floor near the driver-side foot pedals.

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Safety Tips: Catch them all, but be careful while playing Pokémon Go

September 7, 2016 | 6:00 am


By now, you’ve likely heard of the game Pokemon Go, which has taken the country by storm and has been a huge hit for gamers of all ages. And if you have heard of the game, then you’ve probably heard of various incidents of people getting injured while playing. 

The Bakersfield injury, accident and workers’ compensation lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles remind all gamers to practice safety while playing Pokémon Go, and read the tips below for an injury-free experience.

If you haven’t heard of Pokémon Go, click here to learn all about the game. In short, it’s a location-based reality game in which players use a mobile device’s GPS capability to locate, capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on the screen as if they were in the same real-world location as the player. And it’s free!

There are 150 different types of Pokémon to be caught, but to catch them you have to find them first, and the game requires you to walk around to find Pokemon. “Poke stops” are everywhere, including at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. Visit the Park at River Walk in Bakersfield to find it full of kids, teens, and adults walking around catching Pokemon on their phones.

And while the game has players out and about being active, it’s also led to injuries and other incidents caused by distracted playing. In the last few weeks, Pokemon Go has been connected to the following incidents in the United States:

  • A 15-year-old Pennsylvania girl was struck by a car while playing (WPXI)
  • A 28-year-old driver in Auburn crashed into a tree while playing (Auburnpub.com)
  • Two men fell off cliffs in Encinitas while playing. (San Diego Tribune)
  • A man crashed into a parked police cruiser while playing the game. (Huffington Post)

The problem lies in distracted playing, as players focus on the phone in front of them instead of their surroundings. Please follow these tips to stay safe while catching Pokemon:

  • Do not go out alone to play Pokemon Go.
  • Always check your surroundings while playing.
  • Be alert at all times while playing.
  • Do not trespass onto private property.
  • Let someone know where you are going to be when venturing out.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, catch Pokemon while driving.
  • Do not go into unsafe or suspicious areas to catch a Pokemon.

Just recently, Pokemon Go updated the game to include safety warnings such as “remember to be alert at all times,” “stay aware of your surroundings,” “Do not trespass while playing Pokémon Go,” “Do not play Pokémon Go while driving,” and “Do not enter dangerous areas while playing Pokémon Go.”

And most recently, The California State Assembly introduced a measure that would expand the ban on texting while driving to include other distracting operations of smartphones, including searching for “Pokemon Go” characters, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Playing Pokemon Go is a great way to get active and explore areas around you, but Chain | Cohn | Stiles advises you to not put yours or others’ lives at risk to catch a Pokemon.

— By Marisol Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, call Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.