By: William M. Berman, Attorney at Law
CALIFORNIA – On January 1, 2009, a new law went into effect prohibiting all California drivers from writing, reading or sending a text message while driving. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, this new law applies to electronic wireless communication devices used to manually communicate with any person using text-based communication, including but not limited to, text messaging, instant messaging or electronic mail. Violation of this law is punishable by $20 for the first offense and $50 for each additional offense.
The policy behind this law was designed to minimize distractions while driving. Anyone who has attempted to create and send a text message, or has witnessed a person text messaging while driving, knows just how distracting it can be. Indeed, major studies have shown that nearly 80% of vehicle crashes and 65% of near-crashes are the result of driver distraction, such as use of cell phones or movements aimed to adjust channels or volume controls on car radios.
Earlier this year, on July 1, 2008, California banned all drivers from using a wireless handheld telephone without the use of a hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle. But that law failed to include any prohibition against text messaging – an obvious oversight. Since the law went into effect, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) has cited approximately 42,000 drivers for improper use of cellular telephones while driving. Figures released by the CHP indicate the number of citations has remained steady since the law was enacted in July 2008. Many continue to see drivers holding cellular telephones and are concerned that people are simply not obeying the law. However, Fran Clader, a spokeswoman at CHP headquarters emphasizes that it’s still too early to draw firm conclusions on the public’s response to these new laws. One thing we can all safely confirm is less driver distraction will translate into fewer auto accidents.
Unfortunately, many people are seriously injured each year as a result of car accidents caused by distracted drivers. If you have suffered a serious injury through an auto accident, it is important to know your legal rights. As a personal injury law firm, the lawyers at Berman & Riedel, LLP, know first hand the devastating effects that a car accident can have, as well as how to handle this type of claim. If you are injured in an auto accident, we are equipped to provide you with the most aggressive, dedicated and ethical representation you need to recover everything you deserve. Don’t ever forget, the insurance company has their own attorney. So should you.
William M. Berman is an attorney with the firm Berman & Riedel, LLP, and concentrates his practice in the areas of handling serious personal injury, elder abuse/neglect and wrongful death matters. He can be reached at the firm by calling (858) 350-8855.