Texting not only changes how we talk, but also wreaks havoc on the roads

California drivers who text while driving are acting illegally and negligently.

Parents have noticed that their teenage and young-adult sons and daughters do not answer their phones to talk any more. If you want to reach them, text them instead. The impact of text messaging on interpersonal communication has been massive. Unfortunately, some people cannot seem to stop even when they are behind the wheel, creating serious danger to people in other vehicles, on motorcycles and bicycles, and on foot.

Distracted driving

Distracted driving is always dangerous. Historically, drivers could be distracted by eating, drinking, talking to passengers, putting on makeup, reading, trying to access a knob on the dashboard, listening to the radio or recorded text, and other actions. But experts say that texting is especially dangerous because it causes three kinds of distraction: manual, mental and visual.

Some experts believe that texting is as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Many people have heard the federal government finding that reading or sending one text removes your eyes from the road for five seconds, which at 55 mph means that during that text, you drove the length of a football field as if your eyes were closed.

The Huffington Post described a study published in Scientific Reports that found more danger in texting while driving than in driving while emotionally upset or absent minded. The researchers used a sophisticated simulator.

They speculated that the "sixth sense" that seems to take over the driving function even when people are mentally distracted relies on a part of the brain called the anterior cingulated cortex or ACC. However, they think the ACC needs visual and manual input to do this, which is interrupted when the eyes and a hand are instead texting.

California law regarding texting while driving

California state law forbids:

  • Texting (or talking) on a handheld device or operating any electronic device while driving, although adults may use hands-free devices or a handheld phone to report an emergency, while officially driving an emergency vehicle or on private property
  • Using or even holding any wireless device while driving
  • Using a mobile phone while driving if you are a bus driver, with some exception
  • For minor drivers, using a mobile phone, laptop, pager or any other electronic device to text or talk while driving, even a hands-free device, except to make an emergency call

Violations can result in fines, which many think are too low in California to make a difference. A citation for violation of these texting traffic laws when a car accident occurs, however, would be very important evidence in a personal injury lawsuit for resulting injury, property damage or death.

Liability for texting-related accidents

Anyone hurt in a motor vehicle crash while the other driver was distracted by texting should speak with an attorney as soon as possible to understand the legal options available. Negligence, recklessness and behavior dangerous to others that causes injury results in liability in money damages in a personal injury lawsuit.

The attorneys at the Palm Springs Law Offices of Michael R. Kaiser represent the victims of car accidents caused by distracted drivers in the area, throughout Imperial County and in the Coachella Valley.