We have all seen it (and some of us are guilty as well), talking and texting while driving. Distracted driving can include using a phone, using GPS, or even eating while driving. April is National Distracted Driving Month. In support of furthering awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, here are a few facts to consider:
- 80% of American drivers believe hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone.
- More than 30 studies show hands-free devices are no safer because the brain remains distracted by the conversation.
- Data suggests that the impairments associated with cell phone drivers may be as great as those commonly observed with intoxicated drivers. A driver’s reaction time is slowed by an average of 30% while talking on a cell phone, similar to that of a drunk driver.
A recent trend in Florida for those injured by a distracted driver is to move for punitive damages before the case goes to trial. Punitive damages are damages awarded in addition to actual damages (such as medical expenses) when the defendant acted with recklessness, malice, or deceit. While this is a new trend in regards to talking on the phone, punitive damages being awarded for those who drive while intoxicated have existed in Florida for decades. See Ingram v. Pettit, 340 So.2d 922 (Fla. 1976) (“We affirmatively hold that the voluntary act of driving while intoxicated evinces, without more, a sufficiently reckless attitude for a jury to be asked to provide an award of punitive damages if it determines liability exists for compensatory damages.”). That voluntary act of reckless driving along with the studies comparing talking on the phone to driving while drunk has resulted in some Florida judges permitting punitive damages in these sorts of accidents.
The LaBovick Law Group is committed to ending distracted driving. Our Managing Partner, Brian LaBovick, is heavily involved in the Dori Slosberg Foundation. As part of this organization, he travels to local high schools and gives speeches designed to warn teens of the dangers of distracted driving. If you have been injured by a distracted driver, call the LaBovick Law Group today for a free consultation.