Distracted driving is a significant problem with serious consequences. Whether navigating downtown’s street grid or traveling on the Palmetto Expressway, a great deal of concentration is required to drive safely on Miami’s congested roadways. Any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from the road can be dangerous, especially with our area’s added hazard of having many visitors who may not always know where they are going. While cell phones are a common reason for a person's attention to be pulled away from driving, there are other problematic behaviors, such as smoking, reading, interacting with passengers, programming the GPS, playing with the radio and adjusting the temperature.
Drivers Acknowledge Dangers, Yet Remain Indifferent
Despite the known dangers of distracted driving, many motorists choose to do it anyway. A recent survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that one-third of drivers asked say that they often engage in risky behavior while driving even though they have a loved one who was killed or seriously hurt in a crash. These same drivers believe their actions are unacceptable, yet remain indifferent. The bad driving habits exhibited by Floridians in this survey were on par with the rest of the country -- except for Internet use. Almost 25 percent of Florida drivers admitted to using the Internet while driving, which was higher than the national average.
Common Types of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is such an important national issue that there is an official United States government website dedicated to educating the public. The most recent numbers available show that in 2012, the number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes nationwide was more than 3,300. Furthermore, an estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. The most common forms of distraction that can lead up to a crash include interacting with passengers, cell phone use, looking at something inside the vehicle, looking at something outside the vehicle, singing or dancing to music, personal grooming and reaching for something. Texting is a serious issue because it involves manual, visual and mental distraction. Terrifyingly, texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of five seconds, which is equivalent at 55 mph to traveling the length of a football field – and doing it basically blindfolded.
Laws regulating driving behavior vary from state to state. Florida drivers are still permitted to use handheld cell phones while operating a vehicle, though many states have prohibited such behavior. It wasn’t until 2013 that Florida enacted a ban on texting or emailing while driving, one of the last four states in the country to do so. Our law is also one of the few that does not consider the behavior to be a primary offense. This means that for the distracted violation to apply, a texting driver must first be pulled over for another traffic offense. The law also does not apply to drivers in vehicles that are stopped and assesses only a $30 fine for first-time violators. State lawmakers have begun discussing ways to strengthen the law. There are three bills currently filed seeking to allow police officers to pull drivers over immediately if caught texting while on the road. If the bills are passed and signed by Governor Scott, they'll go into effect in October.
Teens: Particularly At-Risk
Teenagers are disproportionally affected when it comes to car accidents and distracted driving. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers and a new AAA study found that in nearly six out of 10 moderate to severe accidents involving teenagers, driving while distracted was a factor. Using video analysis, researchers found that distraction was a factor in 58 percent of the crashes studied, including 89 percent of road-departure crashes and 76 percent of rear-end crashes. The teenagers in the video footage using cell phones looked away from the road an average of 4 of the last 6 seconds before they crashed, and in 50 percent of rear-impact crashes the driver exhibited no reaction at all beforehand.
Distracted Driving Legal Considerations
Distracted driving accidents often cause serious injuries because the inattentive drivers involved do not try to avoid or minimize a crash. It is common for a Florida distracted driving accident to give rise to a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for damages. If you or someone you love has been injured by someone who chose to drive while distracted, you need an experienced car accident attorney to effectively represent your interests. At Stabinski Law, we have been helping people for over 45 years, and we can help you.
Contact us today by calling (305) 643-3100 or filling out a free case evaluation form.
DISCLAIMER: Any information about past verdicts and settlements is based on the unique facts of each case. Every case is different, and future cases may not achieve the same or similar results. These amounts reflect the gross recovery (before attorneys’ fees and expenses are deducted).