Distracted Driving Car Accidents
Distraction is part of life in modern society. The ability to multitask is seen as a badge of honor in today’s harried world, where everyone is trying to squeeze as much into every day as possible.
Problems arise, however, when that multitasking takes place behind the wheel. According to the National Safety Council, 1 out of every 4 Florida auto accidents involves a cell phone. For teens, the risk of distraction is even greater, new research suggesting 60 percent of all crashes and near-crashes are precipitated by driver distraction.
At The Ansara Law Firm, our car accident attorneys in Fort Lauderdale understand the evolving legal landscape when it comes to driver distraction, and it’s our goal to hold negligent motorists accountable. We work to ensure our clients receive the financial compensation to which they are rightfully entitled.
One of the biggest problems with distraction is that those who engage in it believe they are somehow immune to the terrible effects. Yet, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports an estimated 3,155 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2013. That’s likely a low figure, as distraction is not as easy to identify and quantify as other risk factors, such as alcohol impairment or speeding.
According to the 2014 AAA Foundation for Safety Traffic Safety Culture Index, 9 out of 10 motorists reported distraction was a growing problem. Eighty percent said drivers who text and email while the vehicle is in motion are a serious threat to safety and 85 percent said it’s completely unacceptable. And yet, more than a third admitted to doing so themselves in the month prior.
There is a clear disconnect between what people (rightfully) perceive as a problem and the reality of their own contribution to it.What Is Distracted Driving?
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports driver distraction is a contributing cause in at least 2,000 annual car accident in the Sunshine State. Again, that’s likely a low estimate.
To stop this trend, we need to fully understand it.
Although the term is most often referenced in relation to a driver who uses their smartphone while operating a vehicle, it can also mean:
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Turning to address children in the back seat
- Grooming (including applying make-up)
- Reading (including maps)
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Using a hands-free phone
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, iPod or MP3 player
While no driver is “good” at texting or engaging in other distractions while driving, less experienced drivers are more likely to suffer serious consequences as a result.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a study on environmental factors resulting in teen driver crashes and found that in 58 percent of crashes overall, teen drivers were inattentive or engaged in some other non-driving related activity. This was especially true for road departure crashes (89 percent) and rear-end crashes (76 percent).
The most frequent distractions in those instances were:
- Interacting with passengers
- Talking on a cell phone
- Reaching for an object
- Singing or dancing to music
- Personal grooming
- Attending to something inside the vehicle
State lawmakers, in recognizing the dangers, finally passed a ban on texting while driving in 2013, making it one of the last states to do so.
F.S. 316.305 bans the use of text messaging while driving.
However, many people have been critical of the statute because it is considered a secondary offense. That means an officer cannot stop a driver solely for violating this law. The officer has to also observe some other violation of law in order to lawfully stop the driver.
In addition to being difficult to enforce, the penalties are not severe – particularly given the impact such an action may have on the lives of others. It is considered a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable by a $30 ticket for a first offense.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Fort Lauderdale car accident, contact the personal injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (888) ANSARA-8.