Attorney Katherine Loper
12/4/2012: This morning, I heard on the radio that a Orlando school bus, which was carrying 25 kids on their way to school, ran a red light, hit a car and then ran into a power pole. To make things worse, the power lines dropped live wires over the bus.
Read more at News4jax:School bus crashes into power pole
Luckily no one was hurt but it got me thinking about distracted driving and how prevalent it is. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been behind a car weaving back and forth “ only to pass the vehicle and see the driver texting while œtrying to drive. I also have been guilty of œtapping a vehicle in front of me, as I turned to look at my crying baby in the back . Both of these scenarios describe different forms of distracted driving.
Distracted driving is a major cause of car accidents in Florida, even more so as cell phone use and texting have increased. Drivers who cause accidents by distracted driving are liable for the injuries they cause to others. They need to be held responsible for the harm they cause.
Driver distraction occurs when the driver’s focus is on something other than the primary task of driving. This increases the risk of driver error and crash involvement. Research shows that drivers who talk on a cell phone while driving are four times more likely to be involved in a crash. Although cell phones attract the most attention, there are many in-vehicle and external sources of driver distraction. In fact, cell phone use is typically associated with lower crash risks than are many other common distracters. For example, reaching for a moving object, interacting with passengers, adjusting entertainment systems, and an outside person, object or event are associated with higher crash risks, according to a Distracted Driving study by the Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation Department.
What is classified as distacted driving?:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
Who are our distracted drivers?
- Research shows that over half of U.S. drivers report having used a cell phone in the past 30 days.
- One in seven admits to text messaging while driving.
- Forty-six percent of 16 and 17 year old drivers say they text message while driving.
- Forty-eight percent of 18 to 24 year old drivers text message while driving.
- Sixty-seven percent of 25-34 year old drivers talk on their cell phones while driving.
- Sixty-five percent of drivers with a college education talk on their cell phones while driving. The higher the level of education, the higher use of the cell phone.
Key Facts and Statistics
- In 2010, 3092 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and an estimated additional 416,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.18% of injury crashes in 2010 were reported as distraction-affected crashes.
- In June 2011, more than 196 billion text messages were sent or received in the US, up nearly 50% from June 2009.
- 11% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.
- 40% of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger.
- Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
- Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.
- Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind.
- Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use.
- Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%
How can distracted driving be prevented?
- Many states are enacting laws”such as banning texting while driving”or using graduated driver licensing systems for teen drivers to help raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and to keep it from occurring.4
- On September 30, 2009, President Obama issued an executive order prohibiting federal employees from texting while driving on government business or with government equipment.3
- On October 27, 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted a ban that prohibits commercial vehicle drivers from texting while driving.
Unfortunately, Florida is not one of the states with laws that curb distracted driver activities. Maybe during the 2013 Legislation Session, Florida legislators will look into passing some type of law to curb distracted driving. Have you were loved one ever been involved in a car accident with a distracted driver? Contact us today for a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys. And from our family to yours:
Put Down Your Cell Phones while Driving