Orange County is famous for its beaches, sunsets, golfing, and theme parks.

People are drawn to this part of the state, and many decide to stay. The population density of our county is now almost 4,000 people per square mile – far higher than anywhere else in Southern California. This many people sharing the roadways means drivers must remain attentive and responsive in order to avoid collisions. Losing focus behind the wheel, even briefly, can have tragic consequences.

When tragedy does occur, Neale & Fhima is prepared to take action.

We bring negligence claims on behalf of people injured by distracted drivers. If you or a loved one was involved in a car accident, distracted driving may have been a factor, even if you are not yet aware of that fact. We can perform a thorough investigation to determine what exactly the other driver did wrong, and how much financial compensation the driver’s insurance company should have to pay.

Driving Is the Worst Possible Time to “Multitask”

Human beings are capable of doing two things at once. So why are so many accidents caused by people trying to drive and perform a seemingly simple task, like sending a text message? Part of the problem is that operating a vehicle already requires us to divide our attention. Driving is not a single task – it is many individual tasks that must be performed simultaneously.

So, by way of example, it is not merely a matter of “texting and driving.” It is a matter of texting and…

  • steering
  • slowing, stopping, and accelerating
    distracted-driving
  • scanning the road ahead
  • maintaining a safe following distance
  • being aware of potential cross-traffic
  • checking rearview mirrors
  • monitoring speed
  • reacting to hazards and emergency vehicles
  • reading road signs
  • navigating
  • anticipating the actions of other drivers.

Attempting to perform additional tasks beyond those required to operate a vehicle is asking too much of the driver’s mind and body. Furthermore, it is completely unnecessary. Whatever the distracting task may be, it can wait until the trip is over, or at least until the vehicle is pulled safely to the side of the road.

The Most Dangerous Types of Driver Inattention

Ten common types of distracted driving behaviors are listed below. The most recent figures available from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) illustrate how likely each behavior is to cause an accident compared to the others. (The information provided here is based on statewide accident records. It does not include injuries or deaths suffered by passengers, pedestrians, or other drivers. The data is limited to collisions in which at least one of the listed behaviors was determined to be a factor.)


Accidents in which the driver was injured or killed (2013)

Behavior Percentage of Total
Cell phone (handheld) 25%
Radio/CD 22%
Electronic equipment 13%
Eating 11%
Children 11%
Cell phone (hands-free) 5%
Animal 4%
Reading 3%
Smoking 3%
Hygiene 2%

Surprised to see hands-free cell phone use as a common type of distracted driving? “Inattention blindness” is a form of cognitive distraction that occurs when the mind fails to register what the eyes are seeing. It can occur even though the driver refrains from texting, dialing a number, or otherwise looking at the phone. The act of engaging in a conversation puts the driver at risk even if the driver’s eyes never leave the road.

Distracted Driving is Prevalent in Orange County

Each year the youth organization Friday Night Live hosts an awareness program called Roadwatch. Students across the state spend one hour at a traffic intersection near their school, observing cars as they go by. The students keep a tally of all instances of distracted driving. In one such study that drew media attention at the time, local students observed four intersections in Orange County and found an average of 194 instances of distracted driving per site during the one-hour period. That result was nearly double the average for intersections observed statewide.

Teen Drivers and Road Safety

Given how common distracted driving is in our community, the high numbers of accidents attributable to driver error should come as no surprise. According to CHP records for Orange County:

Traffic collisions caused primarily by driver error (2015)

Total Collisions: Injury Collisions: Fatal Collisions:
25,127 11,160 87

 

Notably, these figures exclude accidents in which DUI was found to be the primary cause. Many of those accidents surely involved some type of distracted driving in addition to intoxication. This highlights an additional problem because alcohol intoxication inhibits a person’s ability to perform divided-attention activities, hence the various field sobriety tests that require DUI suspects to perform simultaneous tasks like standing on one foot and counting aloud. Combining two of the biggest menaces on the roadway – DUI and distracted driving – is a recipe for disaster.

Our Approach to Distracted Drivers Who Cause Accidents

Did you know that as of January 1, 2017, it is illegal to hold a cell phone while driving in California? The law was not passed to stop drivers from holding a phone to their ear while driving – we already had a law on the books to address that driving behavior. The new law prohibits drivers from holding a phone, period.

At Neale & Fhima, we are pleased to see progress in the fight against distracted driving. Orange County is our home. We appreciate everything that makes this community great, but there is no denying that we have a persistent culture of distracted driving here.

That is not to say that distracted driving is in any way excused by the fact that it is so common.

Negligence law holds people to a legal standard known as “reasonable care.” Whether an individual’s conduct is found to be reasonable sometimes depends on what is customary. Distracted driving is not treated this way. It is never reasonable to operate a vehicle while distracted, even if thousands of people do it every day in Orange County. Our attorneys have zero tolerance for distracted drivers who injure other motorists. If you are a victim of distracted driving, we are on your side.

To speak with one of our distracted driving liability attorneys, we invite you to call our office at (888) 506-0899 or fill out the contact form below.