According to a recent report, Florida drivers are the sixth-worst in the nation. While Florida ranks pretty low on drunk driving, our state is ranked so high because of careless/distracted driving (of which we are ranked first). This study came from statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Motorists Association and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. While Palm Beach County has cut its careless driving ticket count by more than half (506 in 2009 and 232 in 2012), the rest of the state is not fairing so well.
While distracted driving is a huge problem in Florida, the rest of the country is also seeing the problems associated with today’s cell phones and other gadgets. The U.S. Department of Transportation has stated that last year 3,328 people were killed in distracted driving collisions. This study did not state how many non-fatal collisions were caused by distracted driving, but one can assume it is significantly higher. Distracted driving is classified as anything that takes your eyes off the road. However, it is texting while driving that most people associate with distracted driving. According to the National Safety Council, using a cell phone, even with a hands-free device, makes you four times as likely to be involved in a crash, and cell phones are responsible for around 25 percent of all crashes. Texting is even more dangerous as, on average, it takes drivers’ eyes away from the road for 4.6 seconds. If a driver is going 55 miles per hour, that equates to the length of a football field!
Every driver is guilty of some form of distracted driving. We all check our mirrors, change the radio station, eat in the car, etc. Texting is just the latest way that distracted driving is becoming more and more of a concern. Florida lawmakers have finally noticed this deadly habit and have enacted Florida Statutes section 316.305.
While this statute does not make texting while driving illegal, it is a secondary offense. This means that you cannot be pulled over and ticketed for distracted driving unless you broke another law, such as speeding or causing an accident. Some say this new law is too lenient, while others say it is unnecessary. A new bill has been filed by the Florida House of Representatives that would make this statute a primary offense, meaning if you use your cell phone while driving, you can be stopped and cited. Some states and municipalities around the country have taken steps to assure that people get off their phones and pay attention to the road. These localities make it a traffic offense to be on the phone while driving. While Florida’s law is a start, it is far too lenient on distracted drivers because it is merely a secondary offense.
The Florida House of Representatives has filed a bill that would ban the use of cell phones while driving in a posted school zone or school board property. This attempt is a repeat of unsuccessful legislation filed in 2012 and 2013. The intent behind this is to take little steps to ban cell phone use altogether while driving.
The New England Journal of Medicine has also commented on the issue of distracted driving. Their study focused on the risk of crashes due to distracted driving inexperienced vs. novice drivers (people over 20 vs. teens). The study reports that drivers from 15 to 20 years old constitute only 6.4 percent of all drivers, yet they account for 10 percent of all motor vehicle deaths and 14 percent of all crashes with police-reported injuries taken from the scene. They estimate that close to nine percent of all people who drive during the day do so while dialing, talking, or sending or receiving texts. Also, they estimate that cell phone use by any driver increases the risk of a crash by four percent.
The Journal’s study involved 100 cars of experienced drivers and 100 cars of teen drivers. Both groups were asked to use cell phones while on a test track. The teen study reported that newly-licensed drivers were 3.9 times more likely to have crashes or near-crashes compared to experienced drivers. It also showed that teens were 5.1 times more likely to hard break or make sharp turns compared to the experienced driver.
At LaBovick Law Group, we are dedicated to fighting for the rights of our clients injured in motor vehicle accidents. The firm’s fearless leader and managing shareholder, Brian LaBovick, even travel around to local high schools to give warnings to teens about the dangers of texting while driving through the Dori Slosberg Foundation. This worthy cause was created by Florida State Representative Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton. Established in 2004 after the tragic and untimely passing of Representative Slosberg’s daughter Dori, the foundation is dedicated to educating the public about traffic safety. This is accomplished through the foundation’s many initiatives and programs, such as: Staying Alive on 95, 75 & Florida’s Roadways, DUI 0 Tolerance, Driver’s Education & Safe Teen Driving Programs, and Safe Senior Transportation.
Some states and municipalities around the country have taken steps to assure that people get off their phones and pay attention to the road. These localities make it a traffic offense to be on the phone while driving.
The numbers do not lie; distracted driving is a real problem. Put down the phone when you are in the car. Nothing is that important, and it can wait until you are safely stopped before you check your messages. If you have been injured by a distracted driver, call a trusted attorney today to ensure that you get compensated for your injuries.