Distracted driving is a nationwide problem. As technology becomes a bigger and bigger part of our lives, more drivers attempt to multi-task and end up in wrecks that lead to injuries and deaths.
- Every day in the United States, more than 1,153 people are injured and more than 9 people are killed as a result of a distracted driver.
- 16% of all fatal crashes are attributed to distraction.
- 27% of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes are in their 20s.
- 10% of drivers under the age of 20 who were involved in a fatal crash said they were distracted at the time of the accident.
- 20% of teens and 10% of parents have admitted to having extended text conversations while driving.
The statistics regarding distracted driving are alarming, but – like most accidents – distracted driving accidents can be prevented. By paying attention to the task at hand and being an alert, defensive driver when you’re on the road, you can help to eliminate distracted driving accidents and the devastating consequences that follow.
What Does Distracted Driving Really Mean?
Distracted driving involves doing any other activity that takes the driver’s attention away from the main task of driving. Distractions endanger the safety and lives of drivers, passengers, bystanders, and anyone else on the road.
Some common distractions include:
- Talking on a cell phone
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating or drinking
- Putting on makeup
- Having a conversation with passengers
- Using a navigation system or a map
- Watching a video
- Adjusting the radio, MP3 player, or CD player
The list goes on and on. While all of these distractions are dangerous for anyone on the road, texting is especially harmful. Why? Because it demands your manual, visual, and cognitive attention – things that should be put towards driving instead of a text message.
Remember, anything that distracts you from driving and diverts your attention could be the cause of a crash.
Are There Laws Against Distracted Driving?
Numerous states have created laws banning texting and driving. Our state currently has the Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law in place, which prohibits Florida drivers from texting while driving.
However, the law only makes texting and driving a secondary offense. This means that a police officer can’t pull you over for texting. They must first stop you for some other traffic violation – speeding, running a red light, failing to use a signal, etc. – and only then can that officer give you a citation for texting and driving.
Although the law is supposed to make the roads safer, tying law enforcement officers’ hands in this way does not help. Because of this, lawmakers in Florida are hoping to change the law.
This past January, they introduced Senate Bill 328. The bill aims to revise the initial law to make texting while driving a primary offense. As a primary offense, police officers would be able to pull drivers over and issue tickets solely for texting and driving.
The bill is currently going through the Florida Legislature. If passed, it will go into effect starting October 1, 2016.
How Can I Avoid and Prevent Distracted Driving Accidents?
If you can reduce and avoid distractions while you’re driving, you can decrease the likelihood of getting into a distracted driving accident. Here are specific steps you can take to avoid and prevent accidents:
- Put your cell phone away. If your cell phone is out of sight and out of reach, you won’t be able to readily use it, and you might think twice before picking it up. A cell phone should only be used in emergencies when you are behind the wheel, and even then, you should pull over to use it.
- Don’t eat or drink in the car. Eating and drinking can get in the way of driving. You have to unwrap things. Twist off caps. Avoid dripping or spilling. If you have a rule not to eat or drink in the car, you can prevent these issues.
- Limit the activity inside the car. The more people in your car, the more likely you will be distracted. The same goes for pets.
- If you need to do something besides drive, pull over or park. Or simply get everything done before you begin driving. When you’re behind the wheel, your focus needs to be on driving. Use your time out of the car for everything else.
When a distracted driver causes a car accident, they can be held liable for your injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a distracted driver, contact an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer today to see if you’re entitled to compensation.
About the Author:
Steven Slootsky is a 1985 graduate of Nova Law School, which means he’s been a practicing Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer for more than 2 decades. He founded the Law Offices of The Injury Law Firm of South Florida in 1991. The Fort Lauderdale-based accident attorney is a member of the Florida Bar, as well as the Federal Bar for the Southern District for the U.S. District Court. During his career as a personal injury lawyer/auto accident compensation attorney, Steven has served as the co-chair of the Workers’ Compensation section for Broward County, Florida. He is also a Bronze member of the Florida Workers Advocates, a former member of the board, and serves as an “Eagle” member of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers.