California has had a texting and driving ban and a ban on the use of handheld devices while behind the wheel for some time now.
Unfortunately, recent statistics suggest that these laws just are not enough to keep drivers from trying to talk on the phone, instant message or use the internet while also paying attention to the road.
In fact, fewer than 1 in 3 drivers are distracted less than 5% of the time while they are driving, suggesting that if they are using their phones, it is rare. On the other hand, 20 of 100 drivers on the road are distracted up to 10% of the time while they are driving, and additional 15 drivers are distracted up to 15% of the time.
Perhaps the scarier statistics are that 5% of all drivers are distracted up to 30% of the time, with 7 out of 100 being distracted up to 25% of the time and 10% being distracted up to 20% of the time.
To give some perspective on these numbers, a driver who is distracted 20% of the time would not be paying full attention to the road for 12 minutes out of every hour, while a driver distracted 10% of the time would have their eyes and mind off the road for 6 minutes per hour of driving.
This is of course more than enough time for a person to get into an accident. It is no wonder, then, that the number of injury accidents involving drivers who were using cell phones has been climbing in recent years.
The bottom line is that motorists in San Mateo and throughout the Bay Area may need to be held accountable if they cause a motor vehicle accident due to distracted driving, whether because of technology or otherwise.