Distracted driving in San Diego: a rising epidemic?

Michael Pines, personal injury attorney San DiegoDiegoby Michael Pines, San Diego’s Accident & Injury Expert

Car accidents in San Diego are often unavoidable depending on the circumstance. For instance, if you are hit by a drunk driver, there is very little that could have been done to avoid the accident. Or, if there is a traffic light malfunction or faulty roadway, an accident would be difficult to prevent. But when an accident is preventable, are San Diegans eager to reduce their risk or does our community fall short in accident and injury prevention?

The answer may surprise you.

According to a report at KPBS, drivers in Southern California are the worst distracted drivers in the country. The stats come following a survey conducted on behalf of the Office of Traffic Safety. And in light of the findings, it comes as no surprise that more than 400 drivers in San Diego were fined last week for distracted driving alone – a staggering number that may suggest a rising epidemic in our city.

Some drivers are aware of the problem. Chelsea Daugherty, 20, explains: “I don’t like being with people who text and drive cause I don’t trust them. I grab their phone when they text, but it’s hard for me to put my phone down,” she said in a statement to KPBS.

But unfortunately, not all young drivers are as cognizant. Last week, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department  and the California Highway Patrol partnered together to crack down on distracted driving in San Diego. The team  wrote 414 citations in violation of California laws against distracted driving  – 3 of which were juveniles under 18 years of age.

“The problem with the cell phone is that we stop focusing on our primary objective, which is to get somewhere safely,” said Lt. David Gilmore, traffic coordinator for the San Diego Sheriff’s department. Gilmore explained to KPBS that distracted driving is akin to drunk driving – quite simply, it should never be done behind the wheel since the risk for San Diego injury accidents can skyrocket.

“In the fact that you’re not able to focus on your primary objective, which is to drive down the road and not have a collision,” Gilmore added.

Distracted driving accidents are generally avoidable if you’re the offending driver. But unfortunately, despite the obvious risk associated with texting and driving, cell phone use, and other distractions like radio, GPS, and even Wi-Fi,  many drivers in San Diego are still guilty of “driving under distraction.”

Top 5 Reasons to stop distracted driving today

  1. 1. It can kill you. In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in car accidents as a result of distraction. In addition, an estimated 448,000 were injured according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  2. 2. Your chance for an accident skyrockets. Drivers who use hand-held devices like cell phones or iPods are 4 times more likely to get into accidents serious enough to inflict injury according to Monash University.
  3. 3. Texting and driving poses an intense accident risk. According to Distraction.gov, texting while driving increases your chance of an accident 23 times more than if focused on the road ahead.
  4. 4. It’s the same as drunk driving. Drunk driving is an irresponsible act and has caused countless injury and wrongful death car accidents in San Diego. Engaging in distracted driving is the equivalent of driving legally drunk — a 0.08 blood alcohol level — according to the University of Utah.
  5. 5. It is against the law. No matter how you slice and dice it, distracted driving is against the law in the state of California. That includes the use of cell phones or any other kind of handheld device. Don’t engage in a dangerous trend – take the pledge to stop distracted driving today and put an end to a rising epidemic.

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Posted by Social Media Staff on Feb 22, 2012. Filed under Columns, Michael Pines, Sponsored Columns. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

2 Comments for “Distracted driving in San Diego: a rising epidemic?”

  1. I read that 94% of drivers think Text and Drive is lethal but over one third still do it. What to do? I think legislation has value in raising public awareness in forums like this one but it will be difficult to solely legislate our way out of this issue. I just read that over 3/4 of teens text daily – many text more than 4000 times a month. New college students no longer have email addresses! They use texting and Facebook – even with their professors. Tweens (ages 9 -12) send texts to each other from their bikes. This text and drive issue is in its infancy and its not going away.

    I decided to do something about distracted driving after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver. Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user (especially teens) I built a tool called OTTER that is a simple GPS based, texting auto reply app for smartphones. It also silences those irresistible call ringtones while driving unless you have a bluetooth enabled. I think if we can empower the individual then change will come to our highways now and not just our laws.

    Erik Wood, owner
    OTTER app

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