Distracted driving is still on the rise among California motorists

A recent survey shows that habits such as browsing the Internet while driving are becoming more common, despite drivers understanding the associated risks.

In recent years, distracted driving has evolved into one of the most significant threats to roadway safety in Los Angeles and the rest of California. According to the state's Office of Traffic Safety, in 2013 alone, over 426,000 people in California were convicted of texting or otherwise using their cellphones while driving. In 2014, an OTS survey found that 61 percent of state residents had experienced a distracted driving accident or a near miss with a driver who was using a cellphone.

Studies into driver distraction increasingly indicate that cell phones and other technology can have dangerously impairing effects on motorists. Many drivers are well aware of these findings. Unfortunately, though, research also shows that more people are engaging in these distractions while behind the wheel.

Increasingly common sources of distraction

An annual report from State Farm Insurance reveals that behaviors such as searching the Internet, reading email and checking social media while driving are becoming more common. According to CNBC, surveys from State Farm have found that the proportion of people who report texting while driving has stayed fairly consistent since 2009. However, over the same time period, the proportion of motorists who search the Internet while driving has doubled, and other distractions have also grown more prevalent.

According to this year's survey, the reported rates of various distracted driving behaviors are as follows:

  • Ten percent of drivers record videos.
  • Nineteen percent of motorists take selfies or other photos.
  • Twenty-one percent of drivers check their social media accounts.
  • Twenty-nine percent of drivers access the Internet.
  • Thirty-six percent of motorists read or send texts.

This is especially troubling because this data is based on voluntary driver reports, rather than observational data. Since some drivers may decline to disclose their own risky habits, these figures might underestimate the prevalence of these distracted driving behaviors.

Intentional disregard for safety

Troublingly, many drivers may engage in these negligent behaviors even though they are well aware of the associated risks. For example, according to NBC News, the State Farm survey found that all but 2 percent of the respondents recognized texting while driving as dangerous. Still, 66 percent of the survey participants reported engaging in this dangerous behavior. These findings suggest that many drivers may knowingly and needlessly put others in harm's way.

When negligent drivers cause accidents that harm others, they might be considered liable for the accident and related injuries. If this is the case, injury victims may be able to recover various damages to compensate for their financial and other losses. Anyone who has sustained injuries because of another driver's carelessness should consider reviewing these potential remedies with an attorney.