We don’t have the most accidents in the country, but we’re near the top. Florida placed third on the most dangerous U.S. states for driving list, with speeding the primary crash cause. Texas and California are ahead of us.
The Florida Highway Patrol reports there are about five distracted driving accidents in Florida every hour.
We all know Florida is not the safest state for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. But distracted driving is making the roadways even more dangerous.
Whenever you think of distracted drivers around South Florida, you may assume it’s only using your phone wile driving. Although it is a leading reason in distracted driving accidents, it’s not the only thing that takes attention away of drivers on the road.
What Is Distracted Driving?
In Florida, distracted driving is defined in a very broad range of things that can be considered as a distraction for dfriving as “any activity which takes a person’s hands off the steering wheel, eyes away from the road, or mind (thoughts) away from driving, creating manual, visual, and cognitive distractions for driving.”
Distractions endanger the safety and lives of drivers, passengers, bystanders, and anyone else on the road. Some common distractions include:
- Talking on a cell phone
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating while driving or tipping a bottle or can up for a drink
- Putting on makeup
- Having a conversation with passengers
- Looking at things on the side of the road like an accident or a broken-down vehicle
- Watching a video
- Adjusting climate control, radio, or GPS settings
“I risk my life every day while driving on I-95,” said Brianna McCall, an Oakland Park resident who works in Coral Springs. “I prepare myself for 40 minutes of anxiety every morning. It’s like people forget to use their brains while operating a moving vehicle.”
Florida Distracted Driving Statistics
The latest distracted driving statistics in Florida that are available are from 2017. In that year:
- There were 234 car crashes that resulted in a fatality as a result of distracted driving.
- 270,000 non-fatal accidents occurred that resulted in injuries ranging from minor to catastrophic.
- Of those 270,000 accidents, 3,100 caused life-altering injuries for one or more people involved in the event.
- Distracted driving is most common among teenagers and young adults. In fact, distracted drivers under the age of 30 caused 12,000 auto accidents in 2015 alone.
What do South Florida drivers do to prevent an accident from distracted driving?
The distracted driving laws in Florida have made it easy for law enforcement officials to pull over people that they see or suspect that are distracted while operating a vehicle.
There is a hand-held device law that went into effect in 2019 that allows law enforcement to pull over people they see or suspect them of using their phones while driving. Unlike before, where they could only ticket someone for this only if they had pulled them over for a different reason.
Tips for Avoiding Distracted Driving
Saying “no” to distracted driving does not just prevent you from getting a ticket, it can keep you from causing a serious accident and lifelong damage to other drivers, passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians.
Sometimes it seems like we can’t get away from our phones, but it is a necessary thing to do while driving. Here are some tips to help you put it down when you’re behind the wheel:
- Be aware of safe phone zones. Sometimes, you might be expecting an important call or need to contact someone while on the road. If you find yourself in this situation, seek out a safe phone zone so that you will be less likely to be distracted by your upcoming call or text.
- Assign a passenger to be your “phone buddy.” They can give directions, send texts, and manage hotel and restaurant reservations on a road trip.
- Take advantage of “hands free” options. As we mentioned above, you can receive a citation for texting while driving, but general cell phone use is not included in the ban. In case of emergencies, learn how to use the “hands free” options on your cell phone. Smart phones give you the option of giving verbal commands for texting, calling, or finding directions to your destination. This is still a form of distracted driving, but at least it allows you to keep your eyes on the road while using your cell phone.
- Leave your phone at home. It sounds like a wild idea because we’ve all gotten so used to having our phones at all times, but the truth is that you don’t need your phone for every shopping trip or errand. If you keep your phone at home, you won’t be able to use it while driving.
If you are cited for a distracted driving law in Florida, you could face hefty fines, be required to attend driving school, and you may see increases in your car insurance rates.
It is also important to remember that distracted driving can lead to accidents. If you are distracted and cause an accident, you can be held responsible for the event. Negligence is a very serious charge, and you could face financial and legal problems if found negligent.
If you are involved in an auto accident and believe that the other driver’s distracted driving caused the accident or your injuries, you should speak to an attorney immediately. If another driver is found to have been distracted at the time of the crash, you could be entitled to extra compensation. Contact a Florida personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation.