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What are the Legal, Financial, and Insurance Consequences from Texting and Driving?

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According to an article from Fox 5 San Diego, A Chula Vista police motorcycle officer taking part in a training ride on a rural East County road Wednesday afternoon was seriously injured in a three-vehicle accident possibly caused by a newly licensed teenage driver who was texting while driving.

Highway patrol says the teen was heading east on State Route 78 in Ramona about 2:30 p.m. when the 2011 Ford Fusion sedan she was driving rear-ended a 2006 Chevrolet HHR whose 61-year-old driver had stopped to make a left turn onto Earlham Street. The impact pushed the man’s station wagon into the intersection, directly in the path of the on-duty officer’s westbound motorcycle. The resulting collision sent the lawman tumbling over the Chevrolet and crashing through the windshield of the Ford.

    Medics airlifted the officer to Palomar Medical Center for treatment of severe trauma. Ground ambulances took the girl and the other motorist to the same Escondido hospital with moderately serious injuries. The crash forced the closure of a stretch of SR-78 near Ramona Community Park into the early evening.

    Authorities say that the teen will suffer major legal consequences is they officially determine the cause of the crashes were due to the act of texting and driving, but what exactly are those consequences?

    California has several laws banning the use of cell phones. The first two laws prohibit all drivers from using handheld wireless phones or cell phones and prohibit drivers under 18 from using hands-free cell phones. A third law bans texting while driving.

    Texting while driving poses dangers far beyond traffic tickets. Foremost, texting while behind the wheel may cause potentially deadly accidents. In any lawsuits stemming from an accident, evidence of texting while driving may prove negligence or recklessness, which often determines the outcome of an auto injury lawsuit. If a texting driver wants to sue someone else over an accident, the texting may constitute comparative or contributory negligence, and prevent the texting driver from obtaining compensation.

Texting-while-driving penalties vary wildly from state to state and range from $20 to $10,000, a new study found. In California, a ticket for violating either the hands-free or no texting law costs a minimum of $159, and subsequent tickets cost $279.

Statistics:

Driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).1 The federal agency reports that sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent — when traveling at 55 mph — of driving the length of an entire football field while blindfolded.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2010 driver distraction was the cause of 18 percent of all fatal crashes – with 3,092 people killed – and crashes resulting in an injury – with 416,000 people wounded.

Forty percent of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.   

Eleven percent of drivers aged 18 to 20 who were involved in an automobile accident and survived admitted they were sending or receiving texts when they crashed.

Remember: Not only are texting while driving tickets expensive, so is the increase in your California Auto Insurance premium if have points on your driving record. As long as that ticket remains on your driving record you will pay for it. For the most part, the better driver you are, the better your insurance rate. Drive safe this summer!

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