Distracted Driving in Florida
Distracted driving has been the cause of an increasing number of accidents since the onset of the mobile phone and the popularity of social media and other mobile phone accessibility measures like e-mail, text messaging, GPS capabilities, and internet browsing access. Anyone involved in an accident involving a distracted driver should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to determine their ability to recover against a negligent driver for their injuries.
While mobile phone use is not the only method of distracted driving, it is one of the newest and most prevalent. Over the years, distracted driving accidents and fatalities have remained a significant problem. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), 3,328 people were killed in 2012 in car crashes involving a distracted driver, only a slight decrease from 3,360 in 2011. However, 421,000 people were hurt in car crashes involving a distracted driver in 2012, a 9% increase from the year before.
What Is Distracted Driving?
There are three different types of distracted driving. According to the CDC, a person can be distracted visually (not looking at the road), manually (not having hands on the wheel), or cognitively (not focusing mentally on the task of driving).
Distracting driving also encompasses many different types of behaviors, including:
- eating or drinking while driving;
- grooming while driving;
- using a navigation system while driving;
- using electronic devices, like cellphones; and
- driving with a pet that is not properly secured.
While many people engage in any of these activities, cell phone usage has become the most prevalent, and, possibly, one of the most deadly.
Zooming In on Cell Phone Usage: The Dangers
Texting while driving and talking while driving have become very dangerous, and sometimes deadly, for many citizens because it combines all three levels of distraction. When texting, a driver is 23 times more likely to crash than when not texting and the average time spent looking at a cell phone for a text message is 5 seconds; enough time to cover more than the length of a football field. On a national level, the CDC has found that 31% of drivers between 18 and 64 reported in a survey that they had sent text messages or emails while driving; 69% of drivers in that same age range reported that they had talked on the phone while driving.
Because of the increased risk and popularity of cell phone related distracted driving, many states have taken measures to curb the deadly habit. In 2013, the Florida state legislature passed a law making it a “noncriminal traffic infraction” to drive while “manually typing or entering multiple” keys into a “wireless communications device or while sending or reading data on a device.”
Florida’s limited ban on texting while driving is known as a secondary law, meaning that an officer cannot pull a person over for this offense, but can ticket them for it after pulling them over for another offense. Although the measure is a step in the right direction, there is a need for more significant intervention.
In an effort to further discourage mobile phone related distracted driving, Florida’s Department of Transportation and Geico have recently announced a new “safe phone zone” initiative. These “safe phone zones” refer to “64 rest areas, welcome centers and turnpike service plazas” throughout Florida that will have signs to encourage drivers to wait until they park in a “safe phone zone” to utilize their mobile devices.
For those who have been hurt in car accidents involving distracted drivers, you may be able to recover from the negligent driver for your injuries and costs related to the accident. These injuries could be broad and include medical costs (including hospital care, ambulance costs, emergency care costs), vehicle repair costs (or replacement), wages lost because of an inability to work. Contact Roman & Roman if you need help determining whether you can recover for your injuries resulting from an accident involving a distracted driver. We assist clients in Clearwater, Hudson, and Tampa.