Though Distracted Driving Awareness Month is drawing to a close, the campaign’s message holds true any month of the year.
As the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) reminded us during their distracted driving awareness campaign this month, distracted driving is incredibly dangerous.
In Florida, distracted driving is a leading cause of auto accidents. According to recent reports, distracted driving accidents in Florida have risen 25 percent in the last three years. Studies have found that teens are responsible for an average of 12 percent of accidents, while drivers aged 20 – 29 account for an average of 31 percent of distracted driving accidents in Florida.
As director of Florida Highway Patrol Col. David Brierton explained in a press release from Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, “If you are not 100 percent focused, then you’re not 100 percent driving.”
Driving distractions come in many forms, including visual, manual, and cognitive. Common examples of distracted driving include texting, operating a GPS system, and daydreaming.
To help fight distracted driving in Florida this April and beyond, we’ve compiled a list of rules for avoiding distracted driving practices. Even though Distracted Driving Awareness Month is ending, these rules should be diligently adhered to throughout the year.
Switch off your phone. For many drivers, the buzz of a message or the hum of a call sparks an irresistible urge to check their phone. But in the seconds it takes to remove your eyes from the road and glance at a message, road signs, approaching cars, and other obstacles can be missed. When this happens, dangerous accidents occur.
Plan ahead. If you know you are going to need to use a GPS navigation system during your trip, be sure to plug in coordinates ahead of time. Set the air-conditioning or heat controls on a comfortable level, and pick a playlists or a CD before starting to drive.
Pull over. Sometimes during drives, you may need to answer an important phone call or find directions for a new location. When this happens, find a safe parking space or lot and pull over. The brief moment it takes to pull over can end up saving you from causing a crash.
Save the snacks and drinks for later. With so many fast food restaurants offering drive-through windows in Florida, it often feels like we are being encouraged to eat in our car. But eating or drinking while driving can be incredibly distracting. When you pause to unwrap a granola bar, take a sip of coffee, or clean up a spill, your attention is not where it should be—on the road and the drivers around you.
Be mindful of passenger distractions. Studies have found that many distracted driving accidents occur when there are passengers in the car. Young children, unrestrained pets, and chatty passengers can be very distracting to drivers—be mindful of this, and don’t be afraid to politely request to postpone conversations for after the drive.
Hold distracted drivers accountable. You can help raise public awareness of Florida’s serious distracted driving problem by holding distracted drivers accountable. After falling victim to a distracted driving accident, contact a Florida auto accident attorney. An experienced attorney can explain your options, assist you in filing a claim, and ensure your voice is heard. If it becomes necessary to go to court, your attorney can help you defend your right to just compensation and speak out against distracted driving in our community.