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Texting remains serious driver distraction despite cellphone laws

| Feb 25, 2021

In California and in several other states in the nation, it is illegal to use a hand-held cellphone while driving. This primary law means officers can pull over drivers they see engaging in this process. Yet drivers continue to text and drive, putting others lives in danger in the process.

In 2018 alone, 2,841 people lost their lives and more than 400,000 people were injured as a result of distracted driving. Over a six-year period, approximately 23,000 people were killed.

What type of distractions are involved?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists three types of distractions: manual, visual and cognitive. While manual distractions require drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel, visual distractions require them to take their eyes off the road. Cognitive distractions take drivers’ concentration and focus off the road.

While motorists send texts, talk on the phone and take selfies, they must take their eyes off the road, hands off the steering wheel and mind off of driving. These distractions make it difficult for motorists to respond to hazards, such as bad weather conditions, objects in the road and other drivers’ behavior.

Are hands-free cellphones legal?

As a way to stay in compliance with the law, many drivers have turned to using hands-free cellphones. Although these devices minimize visual and manual distractions, they still involve a significant amount of cognitive distraction. The National Safety Council reports that the human brain cannot fully concentrate on two complex tasks simultaneously. Instead of focusing on the road and maintaining a conversation at the same time, the brain bounces back and forth from one task to the other. This leaves moments in time where the brain is not thinking of driving at all.