We see people glued to their smart phones everywhere we go. But when we’re on the road, we hope other drivers around us are not distracted by their cell phones. Although many uses of a cell phone while driving can be distracting, the most “alarming” type of distracted driving is texting while driving.
According to statistics from the National Safety Council, Florida’s roads have become more dangerous in recent years. Traffic deaths are up 43 percent in the state, comparing the first six months of this year to 2015. While distracted driving is not the only cause of crashes, it is a real danger on the road.
Why is texting and driving so hazardous?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, texting takes three types of attention from a driver, compared with other types of distracted driving such as eating or conversing with passengers:
- Visual distraction: looking at your cell phone instead of paying attention to the road and other traffic around you
- Manual distraction: using your hands to text instead of keeping both hands on the wheel, or instead of having your hands available for using the turn signal, turning on the wipers, using the horn, etc.
- Cognitive distraction: mentally paying attention to the content of the text message you are reading or sending, instead of mentally being aware of what’s on the road around you
In addition, a 2009 study found that five seconds is the average time your eyes are taken off the road while you are texting and driving. If you are driving at 55 miles per hour and take your eyes off the road for just five seconds, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field while blindfolded.
What is the law in Florida pertaining to texting and driving?
In 2013, Florida banned texting while driving. However, the Legislature made it a “secondary offense,” which means police officers can cite a driver for texting and driving only if the driver was in violation of another law, first. In most states, texting and driving is a “primary offense” which means drivers can be pulled over and cited only for texting and driving.
Florida does not make it illegal for teens, the newest drivers and the most vulnerable age group to crashes caused by distracted driving, to use a cell phone while driving. It is also legal for anyone in Florida to drive using a cell phone without a hands-free device. An AT&T survey of customers, as part of its “It Can Wait” campaign found that 61 percent of customers surveyed had admitted to texting while the car was moving.
Crashes involving distracted drivers
There have been numerous reports and studies showing that texting and driving causes crashes that leave people with injuries, or worse, kill people. In 2014, in motor vehicle crashes that involved distracted drivers, 431,000 people were injured. An additional 3,179 people died.
Yet, many people don’t believe it is dangerous to text and drive, or they think they have it under control to the point that they don’t believe they would get into an accident because of it. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration surveyed the issue and found that 20 percent of drivers ages 18 to 20 said texting does not affect their driving. Almost 30 percent of drivers between ages 21 to 34 said texting has no impact on their driving.
If you are a victim of a crash involving texting and driving, or another form of distracted driving, you have the right to seek justice and compensation for your injuries. A personal injury attorney can help guide you as you consider your options, figure out what to do after the crash and recover from the often serious implications of being in such a crash.