After years of decline, traffic deaths have risen sharply over the past
two years. Deaths from auto accidents rose over 14% in those two years.
To put that in perspective, that is the largest two-year increase in over
50 years. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA), in 2016, an average of 100 people died on America's roadways
every single day. That's over 40,000 deaths. The total number of non-fatal accidents
are up as well, reaching 6.2 million in 2015. Of those, 1.7 million resulted
There are several contributing factors to the recent rise in vehicle crashes
in the United States. Safety advocates are starting to realize the effects
of distraction on this increase, and we should all pay attention to their concerns.
Why the sharp increase in automobile accidents? Some blame the relatively
low gas prices of the past couple of years.
NHTSA studies show, however, that miles traveled have risen only about 2.2 percent through
the period. Others point to impaired driving, but growth in DUIs has been
statistically insignificant. While bicyclist deaths have risen sharply
at 12.2 percent, that increase accounts for just 89 additional deaths.
The answer seems to lie in another problem area on our roadways: distracted driving.
The Problem of Distracted Driving
article from Bloomberg points out the obvious connection between distracted driving and the increase
in auto accident injuries and deaths. The article also addresses how we've
drastically underestimated the prevalence of cell phone use and distracted driving.
In the same two-year period when automobile deaths increased by over 14%,
the growth of smartphone ownership grew from 75% to 81%. Keep in mind,
this is just the growth of smartphones like iPhones, Android phones, and
similar devices. It does not include more simple phones. The Bloomberg
article does an excellent job of pointing out the disparity between this
growth, the massive amount of accidents, injuries and deaths, and the
miniscule number of incidents that are reported as cellphone-related.
For example, in 2015, there were a total of 32,166 fatal crashes, resulting
in over 40,000 deaths. Driver error was listed as the cause of 57.6% (18,538)
of these crashes. Yet only 448, or just 1.4%, were attributed to cell
phone use. The article points out that if the numbers are accurate, it
would mean that drunk driving is some 23 times more likely to be the cause
of a fatal accident than use of a cellphone. Study after study, however,
indicates that using a cellphone while driving is almost identical to
driving while impaired. Another interesting aspect of the NHTSA numbers
is that half of all accidents occur basically while a vehicle is heading
straight down a roadway. Drivers will plow into another car or veer off
the roadway, striking an object, pedestrian or cyclist.
The numbers simply don't add up -- or even make sense.
To be fair, the problem is not necessarily with the NHTSA. Every state
has at least slightly different laws regarding distracted driving and
cell phone use. Some drivers will be cited, others will not. Adding to
the underreporting problem is the fact that states report accident figures
somewhat differently, and identifying cell phone use as a direct cause
can be challenging in the field. In many cases, cell phone use may not
be proven to be the cause until after a case has been settled or gone to court.
The Distracted Driving and Cell Phone Use Problem in Florida
Only Louisiana has more distracted drivers than Florida. Many blame this
on our state's failure to enact more stringent distracted driving
laws. The problem this creates is that if you are injured in an automobile
accident in Florida due to the negligence of a distracted driver, unless
the attending officer has concrete evidence of cell phone use, it likely
won't even be mentioned in a police report. This can make it a challenge
to hold a culpable party responsible.
It is why you need solid legal representation experienced in automobile
and personal injury accidents. You should seek out a team who will be
aggressive in obtaining automobile “black box” records and
cellphone use data to make your case. In South Florida, that team is Stabinski
& Funt, P.A.
As one of South Florida's most respected and oldest law firms, Stabinski
& Funt, P.A. has helped many people sort out their legal rights, responsibilities,
and remedies for 45 years. We work on a contingency basis, which means
that if there is no recovery, there is no fee or cost to you. To learn
more about how our firm can help you, contact us for a free consultation
by calling (305) 964-8644 or
filling out a case evaluation form.