Texting and Distracted Driving: A Major Problem in Florida and the U.S.
Reckless driving has long been illegal, but Florida joined a majority of other states in banning texting while driving in 2013. This ban was accompanied in 2013 by a federal regulation prohibiting drivers of large trucks from texting or talking on a cellphone without a hands-free device. Texting while driving may not feel reckless, but studies show that distracted drivers exhibit many of the same behaviors as drunk drivers, including taking longer to react when braking, responding to a traffic signal, recognizing a hazard in the road, etc. Most of us recognize the dangers of drunk driving, so it's time to acknowledge that distracted driving carries much of the same danger. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that drivers on mobile phones are nearly four times more likely to be in an accident than someone refraining from cell phone use, and texting in particular increases the risk of a car crash by 23 times.
In 2015, there were more than 45,000 crashes attributed to distracted driving in Florida, which resulted in more than 39,000 injuries and more than 200 deaths. Across the U.S., more than 3,000 people were killed in 2014 by distracted drivers. These injuries and damage to people, property, and vehicles could all be prevented by drivers simply focusing on driving.
Different Types of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving can be divided into three categories: visual, manual, and cognitive. Texting requires you to take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your concentration off of driving, distracting you in all three ways, which makes texting one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving. Other distracted driving behaviors might include eating in the car, using GPS or other in-car features, and even having conversations with passengers.
Most people may think they can look away from the road for "just a second." However, your eyes are off the road for a minimum of five seconds when checking or sending a text. Even at only 55 mph, this means traveling the length of a football field without looking. Most Florida highways have a 65 or 70 mph speed limit, meaning you would go much farther during that brief glance.
Talking on the phone can be just as bad as texting. Researchers have discovered what they call "inattention blindness," which is when drivers are looking at the road, but because their attention is elsewhere, they don't actually process what's in front of them. A driver may appear to be watching the road, but if they are cognitively distracted, they will miss potential hazards such as an animal in the road or a quickly stopping car. For this reason, researchers have found that hands-free talking or texting is really no better than using a handheld device. Both take your attention away from the task of driving and increase your risk of being in a crash.
Even if you're an experienced driver, remember that your safety and the safety of those on the road with you is at stake. Pay attention to the road, and stay off your cell phone.
Michael L. Morgan Law Group: Helping Florida Car Accident Victims
If you've been injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver, please contact the Michael L. Morgan Law Group at 941-444-1028 or fill out our brief online contact form. We work on a contingency fee basis, so there is no cost to you unless we recover on your behalf. Please call us to schedule a free initial consultation.
Dunkelberger, L. (2013, June 13). New law will ban Florida truckers from texting and driving. Retrieved from http://politics.heraldtribune.com/2013/06/13/new-law-will-ban-florida-truckers-from-texting-and-driving/
Florida ban on texting while driving law. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0300-0399/0316/Sections/0316.305.html
Florida distracted driving awareness month - April 2016. (2015, February 18). Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Retrieved from https://www.flhsmv.gov/safety-center/driving-safety/distracted-driving/
Haselkorn, K. (2014, October 16). Drunk vs. distracted driving in DC and the 50 states. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kat-haselkorn/drunk-vs-distracted-drivi_b_5993852.html
Mobile phone use: A growing problem of driver distraction. (2011). World Health Organization. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/publications/road_traffic/distracted_driving_summary.pdf
National Safety Council. (2012, April). Understanding the distracted brain: Why driving while using hands-free cell phones is risky behavior. Retrieved from http://www.nsc.org/DistractedDrivingDocuments/Cognitive-Distraction-White-Paper.pdf
Texting and distracted driving infographic. (2015). Don't Text and Drive. Retrieved from http://www.textinganddrivingsafety.com/texting-and-driving-stats