Florida leads the nation in distracted driving accidents, and according to a Sun Sentinel article from earlier this year, one of the primary reasons there are so many accidents involving distracted drivers is the state’s failure to pass more restrictive laws prohibiting this practice. Although texting while driving is currently prohibited in the Sunshine State, it cannot be a primary offense to pull someone over, and a first-time offense results in just a $30 fine and no points on your driver’s license. The 2018 Florida legislative session came and went without any further action on this issue.
Each year, there are tens of thousands of crashes and hundreds of deaths due to distracted driving in Florida. Nationwide, it is estimated that 660,000 drivers use their cell phones while driving during daylight hours, and distracted driving accounts for roughly 25% of all vehicle crashes. While this practice is a major problem among most age groups, it is especially prevalent among teenagers.
Teen Drivers and Distractions: A Growing Epidemic
It seems that teens are having a lot of trouble staying off of their cell phones when they are out driving. This is evident by the rising number of vehicle accidents in this age group, and the fact that car crashes are now the number one killer of teens in the U.S. As mentioned earlier, distracted driving accounts for one-quarter of vehicle crashes across all age groups. But among teens, driver distraction is responsible for 58% of vehicle crashes.
Types of Distracted Driving
There are a number of ways in which motorists can be distracted, and these can be broken down into three general categories:
- Visual: A visual distraction is anything that causes drivers to take their eyes off of the road. There are many types of visual distractions that drivers deal with on a daily basis. Examples may include checking to make sure their seat belts are in place, looking at a GPS, and staring too long at a sign or billboard that catches their attention.
- Manual: A manual distraction is anything that causes drivers to take one or both hands off of the wheel while they are driving. This might include reaching for food or drinks, tuning a radio station, adjusting the GPS, reaching for something in their pocket or purse, picking up their cell phone to dial a phone number, and holding the phone up to their ear to talk.
- Cognitive: A cognitive distraction is anything that takes mental focus away from the road. The most common type of cognitive distraction is simply letting your mind wander while driving. Other examples include talking with other passengers and becoming too focused on what is on the radio or a podcast a driver may be listening to.
Texting while driving and similar activities such as checking emails, browsing social media, or using other smartphone apps while driving bring the dangers of distracted driving to a whole new level. While the aforementioned activities fit generally into one of the three categories of distracted driving (visual, manual, cognitive), texting and related activities involve all three. Teens are four times more likely than other age groups to get into accidents because of texting while driving, and we need to do far more as a society to educate teens on the dangers of this practice.
What to Do if you are Involved in a Distracted Driving Accident
Distracted driving is causing a growing number of accidents in Florida, and all motorists are at risk. If you are involved in an accident with a teen or a driver in any other age group who was texting or doing some other dangerous activity while driving, there are some things you should do right away:
- Seek medical attention for your injuries and for anyone else that was hurt;
- Take detailed notes and photos of the accident scene so everything in documented;
- Obtain the contact information of witnesses willing to testify;
- Get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney, so your rights and interests are protected.
At Whibbs Stone & Barnett, we have over 60 years of combined experience successfully representing victims of motor vehicle accidents in the Florida Panhandle. We have seen the rise in distracted driving-related accidents, and we have the knowledge, skills, and resources to ensure that those responsible for these types of accidents are held fully accountable. For a free consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys, call us today at 1-888-219-4561, or you may send a secure and confidential message through our web contact form.