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Texting and Driving: Why Has California Become Lenient on These Drivers?

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Distracted drivers are a common sight on our roads today. If you are at a stoplight and happen to glance to the side or even in your mirror, chances are, you will see someone checking their texts or emails on their phone.

We all know how annoying this can be; we’ve been behind someone at a red light who simply doesn’t realize that the light has changed to green and is still just sitting there.

We’ve also seen drivers who cut across several lanes of traffic to get to the turn that they’ve missed because they’ve been on the phone. These are all slight annoyances that make us shake our heads in disbelief but we are still able to go about our days with only a passing mention of the incident to a friend or a co-worker.

Unfortunately, there are instances in which these slight annoyances become much more than that.

In late July, an 18-year-old teen was charged with suspicion of DUI and vehicular manslaughter of her 14-year-old sister. The accident was broadcast live on Instagram and 18-year-old Obdulia Sanchez was seen dancing and singing and taking both hands off the wheel.

Her 14-year-old sister was not wearing a seatbelt when Obdulia Sanchez lost control of the vehicle, overcorrected, sending the car through a wire fence and flipping it in a nearby field. (http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/07/24/driver-suspected-of-causing-deadly-crash-posted-on-instagram/)

This is an unfortunate example of what happens every day.

However desensitized we are becoming to accidents like this, there is another alarming report that was released by the Office of Traffic Safety. Since 2011 the number of citations that have been issued to suspected distracted drivers has dropped.

The study shows that more than 1,000 people are injured every day because of suspected phone usage while they are driving. Safety advocates suspect that this number might be even higher than that but the drivers refuse to admit that they were using their phone in any capacity while driving.

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The numbers are staggering. In 2011, there were 476,105 citations issued to drivers who were suspected of using their cell phones while driving. In 2015 that number dropped to 269,230.

According to California law, it is illegal to hold your phone to text, talk, or otherwise be engaged with the device while you are driving. However, the author of the original law, former State Senator Joe Simitian, believes the problem lies with the weak penalties associated with using your phone while driving.

For a first offense, a driver using their cell phone to talk to text faces a $20 fine. With the added penalties, the total of the ticket could cost the driver $213.

Compare that to a single driver caught in the carpool lane, the ticket is $491.

A driver caught littering could be fined up to $1,000.

Safety advocates believe that stiffer fines could result in less phone usage, they also go so far as to remind the public that while there is no single answer to addressing texting and driving, harsher penalties could result in fewer accidents on our roads.

If you are in need of a personal injury attorney in California, then the Law Office Of Tawni Takagi is the lawyer to contact. She and her law firm can be reached at http://www.losangelesinjurygroup.com or you can call her directly at the following number (310) 954-7248.

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