Our great state of Florida is known for a lot of wonderful things. Disney World, for one, but also our beautiful beaches, the Daytona 500, the NASA Space Center, and of course, the oranges. What you might not realize is that Florida is quickly becoming known for something a little less enjoyable. According to a recent study, Florida drivers are the second most distracted drivers in the entire country. EverQuote, the company behind the EverDrive app that scores drivers on phone use, speeding, hard braking, risky acceleration, and hard turning, reported their findings based on 20 million trips and 230 million miles. Of these habits, using the phone while driving was the most dangerous. In fact, phone use behind the wheel is suspected to be a huge contributing factor to the increase in traffic fatalities over the last few years.
Part of the problem seems to be an “awareness gap” where almost everyone believes themselves to be safe drivers, but more than half admit to using their phones while driving. Many labor under the misconception that using a phone behind the wheel does not impair the driver. However, a startling comparison has been made that puts the reality of the situation into perspective. Reading or sending a quick text might take you about five seconds, right? Well, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, that five seconds, if you're traveling at 55 mph, is like driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
Eight people are killed and 1,161 are injured every day in this country in distracted driving crashes. A new study ranked Florida above only Louisiana as having the most drivers distracted by their phones while behind the wheel.
What's even more troubling is something called the “latency effect.” Using a phone while driving isn’t distracting only in those active-use moments. Research done by the American Automobile Association warns that the brain's attention lingers on a conversation for 27 seconds afterward. This applies to hands-free conversations also. While it's important to keep your hands on the wheel, it's even more important to keep your mind on what you're supposed to be paying attention to: the road and your surroundings. It takes only a second to cause a car wreck.
One reason Floridians might have gained the reputation as being dangerously distracted drivers is that we are one of only four states that does not consider texting a primary offense. This means a police officer cannot use texting as the main reason for pulling a driver over. The fact that most of the states that have stricter laws also have the lowest distraction rates suggests that toughening up on distracted-driving related penalties might help keep people safer on the roads.
Help prevent distracted driving and its often fatal consequences by talking to your friends and family. If they're about to travel somewhere, even if the distance is short, ask that they not use their phones. Research shows that 57 percent of people will choose to not text while driving if a friend or passenger ask them not to. You would ask and expect loved ones to wear seatbelts because you're genuinely concerned about their safety, not because it's against the law to drive without one. Ask and expect that they will save their phones for emergencies while driving for the same reasons.
If you or someone you love has been injured by someone who chose to drive while distracted, you need an experienced attorney to effectively represent your interests. At Stabinski Law, we have successfully represented victims throughout Florida who have been seriously hurt by negligent drivers. We have also assisted families who have lost loved ones in traffic accidents. For over 45 years, we have been helping injured motorists, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists put their lives back on track, and we are ready to help you. For advice on how to proceed next, or if you have any questions about this topic, call 305-643-3100 or fill out a free case evaluation form.