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Lake Forest California is a great community that I call home, and as a personal injury attorney I can tell you that it is a safe community. However, if you are texting while driving, you are endangering me, my darling daughter, family and all others in our community.

Last year over 360 million text messages were sent in the United States and over 57% of those were from adults, not teenagers. It is a dangerous trend that is not associated with teens anymore. More adults are learning this new hip language and are learning to multitask more efficiently than ever. Busy lives are the norm for many of us who live in Orange County and as you might imagine, rates of motor vehicle accidents with personal injury are also on the rise due to many distractions.

California senator Joe Simitian introduced SB-28 last year, a bill that would make it illegal for adults to send text messages while driving. It is already illegal for anyone under 18 years old to text. The bill is now one of many sitting on Governor Schwarzenegger’s desk awaiting signature. But with California’s current budget crisis, it is doubtful any bill will be signed without a new budget.

With or without a new law, do we really need the threat of a $20 fine because we were texting? Some legislators argued that we are limiting the personal freedoms of drivers and they fear further fines for things such as eating and kids in the car. It is clear that you can’t legislate common sense, but it is apparent that the less distraction you have in your car, the less likely it is that you will experience an auto accident. Nearly 80% of all collisions involve some sort of distraction within 3 seconds of the crash and fortunately, many of these issues can be avoided with some advanced planning.

A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently concluded that drivers using cell phones were four times as likely to get into a crash that can cause personal injuries, serious enough to send them to a hospital emergency room. These findings were for phone use only, not even for texting. Looking down and reading your electronic devices and sending text messages can only increase your risks. Already cell phones are blamed for over 300,000 collisions per year and 2,600 fatalities.

One tragic fatality was a young girl from Southern California driving home this month in Redlands. Officers reported that the girl had just sent a text message before her car lost control and hit the meridian. Other factors were involved but texting was cited as one of the causes. Other cases around the country are equally terrifying when you read that kids are texting their parents as they lay dying in a car wreck. One of the biggest influences on how teens drive is by modeling their parents. So if you want your kids not to speed, where their seatbelt, talk on their cell phones or text, try to model good driving patterns.

Whether SB-28 becomes law or not, fyi drive safe and ttyl.