Spending several years representing the victims of Washington auto accidents, I am constantly reminded how horrible distracted driving accidents are. With over 6 million accidents in the United States every year and a large portion of these caused by driver inattention it is no wonder that the government passes laws restricting activities such as texting while driving.

A recent texting while driving study by the Auto Club of California has concluded that the texting while driving epidemic continues to grow in spite of California’s laws prohibiting it. Texting is now ingrained in our society, with over 5 billion text messages sent every day in the United States. The distracted driving problem, however, is not only limited to text messages, but also to e-mails,  Facebook and Twitter updates. And with smart phones quickly gaining popularity this problem is not going away anytime soon without a proactive way of dealing with it.

The study revealed that not only is texting worse than it was before the law was in place it also showed what demographics are most often guilty of the crime. Young women are most likely to text while driving, with 4.3% of the young female population texting on the road at any given time, dominating their male counterparts which came in at only 2.1%. The use of smart phones and their various applications while driving, however, was dominated by young males with 3.1% of those driving engaging in the activity compared to only 1.6% of the young female population.

California enacted its texting while driving laws over 19 months ago with a meager fine of $20.00, the cost of a meal and this law doesn’t appear to combat the problem proactively.

The Auto Club seeks to end this dangerous habit by getting the California legislature to impose harsher consequences on violators. Studies show that imposing stricter consequences, having a ticket go on a driver’s record, for example, are extremely effective in preventing drivers from engaging in dangerous and illegal behavior.

Studies show making offenses reflect on a drivers record are a far better deterrent than tickets alone, particularly when the ticket is a mere $20.00. California’s auto club seeks to increase the fines and make it an offense that will be reflected on a driving record- hopefully decreasing the numbers and saving the thousands of lives lost from texting offenses.

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