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Entries in distracted driving (5)

Friday
Feb282014

Mapping While Driving: It's Legal. For Now.

Injury Attorney Los AngelesLos Angeles Injury Lawyer 

 

by David B. Bobrosky

(818) 907-3254

 

You've probably heard about Steven Spriggs, cited for distracted driving while looking at a map on his smartphone and fined $165. The California Highway Patrol says Spriggs violated a motor vehicle law that makes it illegal to use a cell phone while driving, unless it is hands–free.

California drivers under 18 may not use any wireless device while driving.The California Code that specifically addresses this situation states,  

A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.

Spriggs claimed he did not violate the statute because he wasn't talking. A California Fifth Appellate District Court agreed with him yesterday, saying the code prohibits a driver from holding a cell phone while talking on it, reversing the ruling of lower courts that interpreted the law to prohibit all cell phone use while driving.

This may not be the final word on mapping while driving though. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the California Attorney General's Office believes state law bans all hand-held cellphone use while driving.

A spokesperson from the CHP contends that "drivers can be cited for anything an officer considers a distraction, such as reading a magazine, drinking a latte, fussing with kids in the back seat – or poking around on a mapping device."

Additionally, Spriggs' case may go to the Supreme Court if the State chooses to appeal.

There's no way to determine the ultimate outcome at this point, but that doesn't mean drivers should feel free to start poking away at their phones without a second thought. Current California distracted driving laws state: 

  1. Texting while driving is illegal.

  2. Talking on a hand-held device while driving is illegal.

  3. Drivers under 18 cannot use any wireless device while driving. 

If current laws don't put a stop to distracted driving, hopefully common sense will.

 

David B. Bobrosky is a Personal Injury Attorney at our firm. Contact him via email: dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com for more information.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
Thursday
Jan162014

Gearing Up: New Driving Laws in California

Personal InjuryPersonal Injury Attorney

 

 

by Andrew L. Shapiro

(818) 907-3230

 

There are new laws aimed at protecting all on our state's roadways, whether they are bicyclists, pedestrians or other motor vehicle operators and passengers.

Much of this legislation is aimed at cracking down on obvious wrong-doers, such as DUI offenders, people who text while driving, and hit-and-run drivers. But a couple laws will affect the rest of us as well.  Here are the new laws for California drivers:

 

Assembly Bill 266: High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes

Have a low, or zero-emission vehicle? Congratulations – if you have a valid sticker from the Department of Motor Vehicles, you can continue to use the HOV lanes until 2019 (formerly 2015), or until federal authorization expires or the Secretary of State receives a specified notice, whichever comes first.

 

Assembly Bill 535: Emergency Alert System (Amber Alerts)

Law enforcement can now issue an Amber Alert when a child has been abducted by anyone, including a custodial parent or guardian, where law enforcement reasonably believes that the life or physical health of the child is in danger.

 

Senate Bill 194: Texting While Driving

Driving While Distracted (DWD) is a growing problem. SB 194 is aimed at cutting back DWD accidents caused by teens – one of the largest age groups guilty of this behavior.

Current law prohibits all drivers from using a cell phone while driving, unless it is a hands free device. This bill prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from using any wireless device, including phones, while driving.

 

Assembly Bill 1371: Passing Bicyclists

This is the Three Feet for Safety Act, which requires drivers passing someone on a bicycle to keep three feet away from the cyclist. Failure to maintain three feet of space between an automobile and bicycle while passing results in a $35 fine for the motor vehicle operator, or $220 if that failure results in a collision. This law goes into effect on September 16, 2014.

 

Assembly Bill 184: Statute of Limitations for Hit and Run Accidents

AB 184 amends Penal Code Section 803, potentially doubling the statute of limitations for hit-and-run accidents to six years from the date of any crash that causes serious, permanent injuries or death, subject to all other requirements set forth in AB 184. Before AB 184 the statute of limitations was three years maximum.

 

Senate Bill 717: DUI Search Warrants

This bill amends Penal Code section 1524. Drivers suspected of Driving Under the Influence who refuse a blood test can be served a search warrant to draw blood in a “reasonable, medically approved manner.” This bill was considered an urgency statute and actually went into effect last September.

 

Andrew L. Shapiro is the Chair of our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him via email: ashapiro@lewitthackman.com or phone: (818) 907-3230.

 

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Thursday
Jun142012

Texting and Driving - Teen Gets Jail Time for Deadly Accident

Injury AttorneyPersonal Injury Attorney 

 

by David B. Bobrosky
(818) 907-3254

Over the last year or so, there have been several reports citing statistics about the dangers of texting and driving.

Based on the amount of people still texting and driving, those numbers have not meant much to anyone. Recently, those statistics became a reality for a couple of Massachusetts families.

Distracted Driver Accident LawyerThis stems from a crash that occurred in February of 2011. Aaron Deveau, 17 years old at the time, drove his car over the center line and struck another vehicle driven by Donald Bowley, Jr.

Bowley, a father of three, died as a result of the motor vehicle accident. His passenger and girlfriend, received significant injuries.

Deveau was accused of texting and driving at the time of the accident. Although Deveau denied it, prosecutors said he sent 193 text messages the day of the accident, including some within a minute of the crash.

Deveau was charged with motor vehicle homicide and negligent operation while texting. He was among the first people convicted under a Massachusetts law that took effect in September 2010, which made texting while driving and causing injury a crime.

Last week, Deveau was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison, with 1 ½ years suspended---leaving one full year behind bars for the now 18 year old.

 

Driving While Distracted - Current Legal Consequences

 

Massachusetts is one of 39 states, plus the District of Columbia, which bans texting and driving for all drivers. Ten other states – including California  and the District of Columbia – ban all handheld cell phone use for all drivers.

While these laws are on the books, ticketing, arrests and convictions are inconsistent and infrequent. Certainly, convictions with jail time are rare.

Just last April, a 23 year old woman in Minnesota only received 10 years of probation after pleading guilty to texting and driving while she crashed into and killed a 58 year old motorcyclist. The sentencing of Deveau may start a trend that really starts to significantly punish cell phone users while driving.

Stiffer punishments may be what we need as drivers are not getting the message. A new survey, released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposed just how severe the problem still is among all drivers, especially teens. In the survey, approximately 58 percent of high school seniors admitted to texting or e-mailing while driving during the previous month. And about 43 percent of high school juniors admitted to the same actions.

National Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is leading the charge against what he calls a “national epidemic.”  Secretary LaHood is in favor of a national ban on all cell phone use while driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration did just that for commercial drivers when it banned all hand-held cell phone use in November, 2011. However, laws for passenger vehicles have been left up to the States.

The Transportation Department is attempting to increase enforcement of State laws. It’s awarding $2.4 Million to Delaware and California for pilot projects to combine more police enforcement with publicity campaigns against distracted driving. Similar projects in Syracuse, N.Y. and Hartford, CT., according to Secretary LaHood, are successfully reducing distracted driving in those States.

Over the last few years a lot has been done to try to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. Much of this has centered around the victims of such accidents. Based on the statistics above, this has not been too successful. Perhaps cases like Deveau, where the offender feels the pain also will do more to finally curb distracted driving.

David B. Bobrosky is a personal injury attorney and safe driving proponent. You may reach him via e-mail: dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com.

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

 

Friday
Aug122011

Driving While Distracted a Nightmare, & Now Responsibility, for Employers

Injury Attorney Los AngelesLos Angeles Injury Lawyer 

 

by David B. Bobrosky
(818) 907-3254

 

 Texting and driving, just one form of DWD or driving while distracted, has become so much of a problem in this age of the smart phone, that President Obama issued an Executive Order in October 2009 to address the problem.

The directive regarded federal employees who text while driving either federally-owned or leased vehicles (GOV), or privately-owned vehicles (POV) while on government business. Section 2 of the Order states:

 

“Text Messaging While Driving by Federal Employees. Federal employees shall not engage in text messaging (a) when driving GOV, or when driving POV while on official Government business, or (b) when using electronic equipment supplied by the Government while driving.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has followed presidential suit, recognizing a new dimension in keeping employees safe. They’re teaming up with the Department of Labor and the Department of Transportation to combat distracted driving.

How Employers Should Prohibit Texting While Driving

OSHA tells employers who have workers that drive on the job that they must be proactive in preventing automobile accidents caused by DWD. It’s the employer’s responsibility to keep their workers from driving distracted. Employers should:

1. Create clear policies prohibiting texting and driving or other distracted driving behaviors.

2. Do not offer incentives to employees for work practices that encourage or condone using cell phones while driving.

3. Enforce your DWD policies. It’s your legal responsibility and obligation as an employer to keep your workers safe, as well as others who might be on the road.

But it’s not just our highways where using your cell phone and driving becomes an issue. Other roadways, rails and even waterways are potentially dangerous environments when people drive distracted.

No one will forget the 2008 Metrolink crash in Chatsworth that killed 25 people and injured many more – the engineer sent his last text message 22 seconds before the crash.

DWD in California

There is a common-law doctrine, Respondeat Superior, that essentially says an employer is liable for acts of negligence or omissions on the part of their employees – and it certainly applies to employers who turn a blind eye to their drivers who use cell phones in company vehicles.

In California, the doctrine evolves to clearly stated laws when it comes to distracted driving:

1. California and Arizona are the only western states that ban cell phone use for drivers who run school buses and transit buses.

2. California is one of 10 states that ban hand-held cell phones while driving.

3. California and 33 other states ban texting and driving for all drivers.

Whether you run a major transportation company, operate a small courier service, or just have one company vehicle for miscellaneous errands . . . as an employer, you need to do your share to make the roads safer for everyone.

David B. Bobrosky is a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney and a safe driving advocate. Contact him via e-mail: dbobrosky@lewitthackman.com.

 

 
Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
Thursday
Jul282011

DWD | Using Your Cell Phone and Driving

Injury Attorney Los AngelesLos Angeles Injury Lawyer 

 

by David B. Bobrosky
(818) 907-3254

 

Driving while distracted, or DWD, is a problem not just for Generation TXT, but also for seniors, baby boomers, Generation X, Generation Y and anyone else not devoting 100 percent of their attention to their driving. This poses a serious threat to everyone on the road.

It’s become such a huge factor in automobile accidents – accounting for 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 – that the government has created a whole website of information to caution drivers. In fact, the DWD site breaks down distracted driving into three primary categories:

Cognitive – taking your mind off what you are doing

Manual – taking your hands off the wheel

Visual – taking your eyes off the road 

All three of these categories or dangers can factor into a potential accident when using your cell phone and driving, whether you’re using it to talk, text, navigate or change music. And in the age of smart phones, we’re especially susceptible to answering the sometimes deadly, siren call of texts and e-mails.

Is Distracted Driving a Disease?

The DWD phenomenon has become a plague to everyone on the road…so much so, that even the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has commissioned an analysis of the problem, Distracted Driving in the United States and Europe:

▪ 25 percent of drivers overall say they use their cell phones
while driving.

▪ 40 percent of drivers age 18-29 say they talk on their phones regularly or “fairly often” while driving.

▪ About 9 percent of drivers overall are texting while driving on a regular basis; but over 25 percent of drivers aged 18-29 say they text while driving regularly, or “fairly often”.

The numbers for cell phone use while driving in Europe depend on the country studied.

DWD Rates Climbing

Unfortunately, there has been a rise in DWD fatalities, from 7 percent in 2005 to 11 percent in 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And other government agencies are concerned as well.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is advising employers to be aware of the problem, and to enforce policies against using a cell phone and driving, since employers face enormous financial and legal issues when their workers text while driving company vehicles. I’ll address that issue and some potential solutions in my next blog.

David B. Bobrosky is a Los Angeles accident attorney at Lewitt Hackman in Encino, California.

 

 
Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
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