‘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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Staying safe while driving after ‘deadliest year on the road’

October 12, 2016 | 9:12 am


A scary truth is that whenever you step into a vehicle, you risk the possibility of being involved in a crash, which could also result in injury, or even death.

In fact, USA Today recently reported that “U.S. traffic deaths jumped 7.7% in 2015, marking the deadliest year on the road since 2008.” According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 35,000 people died in 2015 from car crashes.

Even more, traffic fatalities in the United States rose by an estimated 10.4 percent in the first half of 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which called this an “immediate crisis.” And as traffic fatalities spike, the U.S. government announced a commitment to ending road deaths within 30 years, committing $1 million a year for the next three years for related grants, CNN reported.

For now, there are steps you can take to keep you and your family as safe as possible.

For example, distracted driving is becoming more of a problem in today’s society, accounting for 26 percent of fatalities in car crashes, according to the National Safety Council. It’s up to each driver on the road to focus on the road, and do his or her best to prevent crashes. In short, distracted driving includes the following:

  • Texting while driving or using a cell phone in any way
  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Doing your makeup
  • Changing the radio station, song or volume
  • Using a hands-free device can also be a distraction
  • Having an emotional conversation while driving

Texting and driving is likely one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving because it requires drivers to take their eyes off the road to read and type a message, their hands off the steering wheel to type, and it requires their mind to be thinking about what to say or how to respond to the message instead of focusing on the road.

Here are several safety tips that will help you put the phone down, and help make the road a safer place:

  • Put your phone somewhere you cannot reach it, or turn it off completely so it will not be a distraction.
  • If you have to answer your phone wait until you can pull over safely to answer it.
  • If you have to eat or drink, pull over and do so safely.
  • Get enough sleep so you do not become fatigued; however, if you do find yourself getting tired, pull into a safe parking lot, lock your doors and take a nap.
  • Plan ahead enough time to get yourself ready for the day, so you don’t have to do any grooming in the car.
  • Have your car stereo set the way you want it before you start to drive.

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If you or someone you know is involved and injured in a car or motor vehicle accident, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles right away at (661) 323-4000 or visit the website chainlaw.com. And remember to take the following three steps if you have been involved in an automobile accident:

1) Obtain the name, address, insurance information, vehicle identification number (VIN) and driver’s license number of any and all persons involved in the accident, as well as the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all witnesses.

2) Make sure that a report is filed with the police, sheriff, or highway patrol, but do not talk to anyone else, especially insurance adjusters, about the accident or sign anything without first consulting an attorney.

3) Seek medical attention immediately and explain to your physician or surgeon all of the symptoms and complaints you have been feeling since the accident occurred.

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— By Marisol Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles