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Distracted Driving: Do so at Your Own Risk, and Risk of Others

Readers know that distracted driving is among the biggest concerns nowadays when it comes to roadway safety. Numerous studies have demonstrated the significant dangers of engaging in distracted behavior behind the wheel, particularly when it comes to cell phone use. In response to the issue, states have passed various limitations on the use of cell phones by drivers.

Here in California, all drivers are banned from texting and using handheld devices while driving. These rules can be enforced without any other offenses. In addition, bus drivers and novice drivers are banned from all cell phone use. This means that most drivers are still able to use hands-free devices while driving, which could include phone systems built into a driver’s vehicle or Bluetooth devices connected to a handheld cell phone.

Even though it is technically legal for drivers to use hands-free devices when behind the wheel, this does not mean that doing so is safe, nor does it mean that there will be no legal ramifications if something goes wrong. On the first point, recent research highlights that even hands-free technology is still distracting for drivers. This stands to reason since cognitive distraction is still a real concern.

On the second point, a distracted driver who causes a car accident can certainly be held responsible for injuries or deaths he or she causes. The fact that the driver was not breaking any laws is no defense since motorists are required at all times to exercise reasonable care. Not breaking a distracted driving law does not prove a driver was exercising reasonable care.

The bottom line: realize that if you’re going to talk while driving, you are taking a real risk that could not only harm yourself and others but which could lead to liability under the law.

Source: Distraction.gov: State Laws

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