Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Car Accidents Caused by Distracted Drivers: Types and Prevention

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles,1 each year approximately 200 Floridians are killed, 3,000 suffer incapacitating injuries, and 10,600 to 32,000 suffer personal injuries as the result of “distracted driving.” In Florida, “distracted driving” is defined as a crash that occurs because a driver was doing one or more of the following:

  • Using an electronic communication device; 
  • Using another electronic device; 
  • Texting; 
  • Talking to passengers;
  • Eating/Drinking;
  • Reading;
  • Grooming; 
  • Adjusting the radio, 
  • External factors, such as witnessing an accident, and
  • General inattentiveness. 

Nationwide, the Center for Disease Control’s Injury Center2 reports that distracted driving causes nearly one in five motor vehicle crashes.

Categories of Distracted Driving

There are generally three categories of distracted driving:

  • Visual: When a driver’s eyes are not on the road at the time or immediately before the accident;
  • Manual: When a driver’s hands or feet lose contact with the steering wheel or pedals, and
  • Cognitive: When you are not focused on driving, i.e., daydreaming.

Although it seems difficult for the typical driver to image how another driver can lose manual control of the vehicle due to distraction, a 2015 survey3 reported that some drivers actually change clothes and brush their teeth behind the wheel!

Importantly, the reason why texting while driving is extremely dangerous is because it takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off of driving all at the same time. This means you are visually, manually, and cognitively distracted, while many accidents are caused by only one of these categorizations. Unsurprisingly, drivers under the age of 20 have the highest rate of distraction-related fatal car crashes, the majority of which are attributed to texting and use of electronic devices. It was further reported that, when compared to European drivers, Americans had a higher rate of distracted driving incidents overall because they were more likely to be e-mailing, texting, or talking on a cell phone while driving.

Florida Distracted Driving Law

It is reported that distracted driving may be reduced if a state passes and enforces strong distracted driving laws, such as laws against texting and cell phone use while driving. Florida, however, has some of the weakest distracted driving laws in the nation. Under Florida law,4 texting while driving is illegal, but it is not punishable as a “primary” offense. This means that if you are stopped at a red light and a police officer sees you texting, you cannot be stopped for this alone. You must have committed another traffic offense, such as speeding, and a violation of the texting statute would be “secondary” to that offense.

Further, Florida does not have a ban on handheld devices, i.e., cell phone use, or a ban on cell phone use for drivers 18 and under. Florida is one of only a few states that permits drivers under the age of 18 to use their cell phone while driving, which can have a dangerous impact on Clearwater.

Crashes Caused by Distracted Driving

Although many car crashes are caused by a combination of factors, such as aggressive driving, distraction, and intoxication, certain accidents are more likely to be caused by a distracted driver. One such accident is a “rear-end” accident, which occurs when the front-end of your vehicle impacts the back-end of the vehicle in front of you. This is common if you are visually or cognitively distracted such that you do not realize the car in front of you has slowed or stopped before it is too late. Another type of distracted driving accident is an intersection accident, which is commonly caused when you miss traffic control devices such as stop signs and red lights and drive straight into oncoming traffic. This can result in you T-boning another vehicle, which is an extremely dangerous type of accident if it occurs while you are driving over 55 mph.  

How to Prevent Distracted Driving in Florida

Education about the dangers of distracted driving, especially for those under the age of 20, is the key to preventing many distracted driving accidents. It is speculated that if young drivers are presented with the statistical likelihood of suffering or causing a fatal or serious injury due to texting or cell phone use, it would decrease their likelihood of engaging in distracted behaviors. It is further speculated that stronger distracted driving laws and strict enforcement of those laws will also help to reduce distracted driving accidents.

While on the road you cannot always protect yourself from another driver’s negligence, especially if they are distracted, however, there are some tips for staying safe:

  • When stopped at an intersection, wait two seconds after the light turns green before proceeding. This will allow any drivers who might have speed-up to catch or missed the red light to pass.
  • When at a multi-way stop, never assume another vehicle is going to stop or give you right-of-way. Be sure that the other vehicle has come to a complete stop at the stop sign before proceeding.
  • If you witness a driver swerving or engaging in abnormal behavior, change lanes and put distance between yourself and the driver and/or report the driver to the police. 

Injured by a Distracted Driver in Clearwater? Contact an Experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence or distraction of another driver, you are not alone. In this modern technological era where both navigational services and e-mail are available on your mobile phone, nearly 70% of drivers have admitted to using their device while operating a vehicle. Further, drivers under the age of 20 have been raised with this technology, and it is ingrained into most aspects of their lives.

The Dolman Law Group understands the challenges faced by Florida drivers in this modern era, especially when they are without the full protection of Florida law. We are your go-to personal injury firm for distracted driving accidents in Clearwater. With experience handling complex truck, car, and multi-car cases, our attorneys are here to ensure you get all of the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at (727) 451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 451-6900

No comments:

Post a Comment