Most of us probably have at least one ad campaign, billboard, or commercial about dangerous driving habits in the back of our minds when we get behind the wheel.
Controversial and shocking ads about dangerous driving are commonly created to scare people into practicing safe driving habits. Over the past few decades, the most typical “scare ads” revolved around drunk driving. In recent years, however, you may have noticed a shift. Ads about the dangers of drinking and driving have been widely replaced by ads about the dangers of texting and driving.
A quick text to a friend may seem harmless compared to an entire drive under the influence of alcohol, but statistics suggest that texting and driving – a well as other forms of distracted driving – is actually beginning to cause more danger and more deaths each year.
So which is more dangerous: distracted driving or driving under the influence?
Before we get into the statistics, let’s get something clear. Both are wrong, and both are dangerous. Why?
Anything that takes your eyes off the road puts you in danger. You may not be able to see a car ahead of you that is stopped, a pedestrian, or roadblocks if you are looking down at your phone or focusing your attention on another passenger. Moreover, if you’re driving at 55 miles per hour, you can cross an entire football field in the time that it takes to read a text (5 seconds).
Driving after drinking is dangerous because alcohol impairs your judgment. It’s as simple as that. Research has even shown that this happens after just one drink. Have a few drinks and your motor functions begin to work slower as well.
The combination of these two things – attention and judgment – is critical for safe driving.
DUI vs. Distracted Driving – The Stats
Driving under the influence kills a shocking 27 people every day in the United States. Moreover, by the time someone has a BAC of .08, they are three times more likely to get into a car accident than a sober person.
Comparatively, distracted driving kills eight people every day in the United States.
Seems like drunk driving “wins,” right?
Not so fast.
Texting while driving takes more teenagers’ lives than any other driving habit. In fact, it takes more teenagers’ lives than any other cause of death.
Worse, the dangers and statistics don’t stop teenagers from texting behind the wheel. Half of all teen drivers still admit to texting while driving. If you have a teenager, be sure to talk to them about how to be safe when they’re in the driver’s seat.
Not sure how? We have some helpful tips on how to talk to your teen here.
Now let’s look at older adults. Drivers under the age of 25 are three times as likely to be texting behind the wheel when compared to older drivers, but that does not mean that older adults are safe from the dangers of texting and driving.
This is a problem that affects everyone. In a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69% of drivers admitted to talking on the phone and 31% admitted to reading or sending a text message behind the wheel in the past 30 days before the survey was conducted. If you are texting while driving, you are 23 times more likely to get into a car crash.
Also remember that these are just some ways that people can engage in distracted driving. Eating food, applying makeup, and talking to passengers are all forms of distracted driving as well. We even wrote a blog post a few months ago about the dangers of playing Pokemon Go and driving.
Perhaps the most dangerous thing about distracted driving, though, is that so many people think it’s not that big of a deal. Others should do it, but they can handle it. A big part of the problem is that in most place our laws are quite lax.
Consequences for Texting and Driving in Florida
Yes, texting and driving here is illegal. However, you can’t get pulled over for it. You have to commit another traffic violation, such as running a red light or a stop sign. Only then can a police officer slap on a small additional fine if you are caught texting and driving.
This fine is laughable compared to the thousands of dollars that we face in DUI-related fines. It’s something that likely will change eventually, but until then it’s not likely that police will be able to catch a majority of distracted drivers out on the road.
If there is a small silver lining, it’s this. Get into an accident with someone who has been texting and driving and it’s a very good argument that they were acting in a negligent manner.
Because of this, you can file a lawsuit against them for any damages that you suffer in the crash. Of course, getting compensation isn’t guaranteed. You’re going to need evidence and documentation to prove your case, and the personal injury laws in our state can be complicated and confusing.
If you have incurred damages due to the negligent behavior of another driver, get in contact with a Florida distracted driving attorney immediately.
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.