Gibbs & Fuerst, LLP

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Study finds high rates of driver distraction despite disapproval

Even California drivers who disapprove of distracted driving might still be likely to engage in it themselves. A study by the insurance company Esurance found that more than 90 percent of participants said emailing, texting and browsing for apps while driving were all distracting behaviors, but more than 50 percent said they did them anyway. Longer commutes increased the likelihood that drivers would become distracted.

The survey also asked about advanced driver assistance systems. These include automatic braking, lane departure warning and systems that let drivers go hands free for several minutes. Around half said they drove better with ADAS installed, but around 10 percent felt it gave drivers a false sense of security. Some drivers also complained about complex user interfaces.

These interfaces are not consistent across different models. For example, alerts may be a vibrating seat, a sound, a visual on the dashboard or some combination. Nearly 30 percent of drivers found the warning sound to be a distraction. Another potential danger is that a driver might think a car is in automatic mode when it is not.

The report included suggestions for avoiding distracted driving including putting the phone away. Navigation should be set up before leaving, and people should avoid actions like applying makeup or eating while behind the wheel.

When a driver causes an accident as a result of being distracted, passengers and other drivers might be injured. The insurance company of the driver who is responsible for such an accident is usually supposed to compensate the injured people for medical expenses and possibly for other costs as well. However, this might not always happen. In some cases, a person might be underinsured. In other cases, the insurance company might dispute what happened or simply offer too little compensation. An attorney may be able to help with negotiations.

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