Cell Phone Use Is More Likely to Cause a Car Accident
David Muñoz | September 21, 2022 | Car Accidents
States have taken swift action to criminalize handheld cellphone use while driving because the statistics are clear: it is very dangerous to be on the phone and drive simultaneously.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 3,142 people died in 2020 because of distracted driving.
Research indicates that newly licensed teen drivers are particularly susceptible to distracted driving as they are:
- Eight times more likely to crash or have a near miss when dialing a phone
- Seven to eight times more likely to crash or have a near miss when reaching for a phone or other object
- Four times more likely to have a crash or have a near miss when texting
Cell phone users are 5.36 times more likely to get in a crash than drivers who are not distracted.
Distracted Driving Accidents Can Cause Catastrophic Injuries
Distracted driving accidents often result in serious injuries because the driver’s response to a hazardous situation is delayed, and the collision may occur at higher speeds. Collisions that occur at faster speeds are more likely to result in catastrophic injuries or fatalities.
Car accident victims may suffer serious injuries, such as:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Loss of limbs
- Broken bones
Additionally, distracted driving accident victims may suffer emotional injuries that paralyze them from driving or being in a car. They may have to deal with the mental struggle of recovery or living with a permanent injury. Often, their relationships with others are affected because of their injuries.
In the most serious incidents, distracted driving leads to the loss of life and the insurmountable grief the surviving family must endure.
Fines for Cell Phone Use While Driving in California
While the possibility of serious injury or death is the most significant potential consequence of distracted driving, distracted driving can also result in other types of consequences, including traffic citations and fines.
Violation of the state’s hands-free phone law is considered a primary offense, so law enforcement officers can stop anyone who is violating this law. California’s distracted driving law provides that an offender can be fined $20 for a first offense and $50 for any subsequent offense.
Points on Your Driving Record For Cell Phone Use While Driving
In an effort to further address the problem of distracted driving and deter this behavior, California passed a law in 2021 that imposes an additional penalty on any driver who violates the state’s hands-free law. This law provides that drivers who violate the state’s hands-free law will receive a point on their driving record if they have a prior conviction within the last 36 months.
Driver’s License Suspension
If a driver receives too many points on their driving record, their license can be suspended. Points are assessed for moving violations, as well as criminal activity like DUI. A person’s license can be suspended if they accumulate too many points within a one-year, two-year, or three-year timeframe.
The Department of Motor Vehicles takes the following action at these intervals:
- Issue a warning letter if the driver accumulates two points in 12 months, four points in 24 months, or six points in 36 months
- Issue a notice of intent to suspend if the driver accumulates three points in 12 months, five points in 24 months, or seven points in 36 months
- Order suspension if the driver accumulates four points in 12 months, six points in 24 months, or eight points in 36 months
Points are added if the driver does not contest a citation or is found guilty of the violation after a court hearing. Points can be for unrelated offenses to distracted driving, such as speeding or not wearing a seat belt. Points can also be accumulated for violating cell-phone free rules in a school zone or for causing an accident related to distracted driving.
Higher Insurance Premiums for Distracted Driving
Nationally, distracted driving has caused an increase in insurance premiums by 16% since 2011, according to the Center for Policy and Research. This increase coincides with a higher number of accidents related to distracted driving.
While all drivers are currently paying the price for the actions of distracted drivers, distracted drivers who receive one or more citations for violating the state’s hands-free law may face more individual consequences through higher premiums on their personal auto insurance.
Many insurance providers consider the act of texting and driving or using a hand-held phone while driving a serious threat to safety. As such, they may significantly increase premiums after a distracted driving violation because they see the driver as much riskier to insure.
CarInsurance.com estimates that a driver’s auto insurance premiums increase by approximately 27% after a citation for texting and driving. For subsequent offenses, this could be even more.
Distracted Driving Can Impact Your Employment
Distracted driving may impact your job. This is most likely if you are a commercial driver who violates the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) no-use policy for cell phones. Violations of these rules can result in disqualification by the FMCSA and fines of up to $2,750 for drivers and up to $11,000 for employers.
Having a record of distracted driving can also affect people in other jobs, such as those who drive delivery vehicles or deliver products for their job, as well as the ability to maintain active status as a rideshare driver.
Economic Consequences of Using Your Cell Phone While Driving in San Diego, CA
If a distracted driver causes an accident, they can also face potential economic consequences if they are sued. California is an at-fault state for car insurance, so the at-fault driver is responsible for paying for the damages they cause.
The at-fault driver’s insurance can pay up to the amount of coverage in the policy. However, if the accident victim suffers damages above this limit, they can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. If they prevail in their case, the at-fault driver may have liens placed on their property and their wages garnished to ensure that the victim recovers the money owed.
Contact the San Diego Car Accident Law Firm of Mission Personal Injury Lawyers Today To Get More Information
Mission Personal Injury Lawyers
2515 Camino del Rio S Suite 350, San Diego, CA 92108
We also serve the state of Texas. Contact our personal injury law office in El Paso for legal assistance today.