The increase in auto accidents caused by distracted drivers has become such a concern countrywide that many states have implemented campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has instituted Florida’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month this April and even created a hashtag – #FocusonDrivingFL – to remind drivers of just how risky certain behaviors behind the wheel can be.
What Is Distracted Driving?
The Florida Department of Transportation defines distracted driving as any mental or physical activity that takes the driver’s focus off the task of driving, and Florida crash reports can further define the type of distracted driving into the following categories:
- Distracted by electronic communication devices (cell phone, tablet, etc.);
- Other electronic devices (navigation device, CD player, etc.);
- Other distraction inside the vehicle (animals, children, etc.);
- External distraction (something outside the vehicle, such as billboards, watching events occurring outside, etc.);
- Texting; or
- General inattentiveness (daydreaming).
The Florida Distracted Driving Awareness Month campaign identifies three separate categories of driver distraction:
- Visual – taking your eyes off the road;
- Manual – taking your hands off the steering wheel; and
- Cognitive – thinking about anything other than driving.
Anything that impacts even one of these categories qualifies as distracted driving, but texting causes all three, making it one of the most dangerous behaviors to engage in behind the wheel.
Distracted Driver Crash Statistics
Every day, over eight people are killed and over one thousand injured in collisions resulting from distracted driving. The FCC reported that distracted driver collisions were the cause of 18 percent of all fatal crashes in 2012 and that 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in 2014 from collisions involving distracted drivers. Texting and driving is even more dangerous than driving while under the influence: one study found that text messaging increases the risk of crashing by 23 percent.
The U.S. Department of Transportation started its Distracted Driving Campaign in 2009, but Florida needs its own campaign, as it has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the worst states in the nation for distracted drivers. The Florida DMV noted in 2013 that distracted driving is the number one cause of auto accidents, with over 2,000 distracted driving accidents in 2011. In Marion County in 2015, 453 auto accidents were caused by distracted driving, 275 of which resulted in injuries to 465 people, including 9 fatalities.
Florida Safety Initiatives
At the time of the DMV’s study in 2011, there were no Florida laws addressing texting or other types of distracted driving, and it was one of the last states to have no laws on the subject. In 2013, the Florida Senate finally passed a statute banning texting while driving. Florida has also identified distracted driving as one of eight traffic safety concerns, and includes it in a 2012 Strategic Highway Safety Plan to increase awareness, adopt and enforce laws, and support additional programs to increase driver safety.
Injured in an accident?
If you have been injured in an auto accident caused by a distracted driver in central Florida, John Piccin at the Piccin & Glynn can help. John has handled hundreds of auto accident cases and is prepared to answer your questions, negotiate with insurance companies, and even make home or hospital visits to ensure that you get the support you need. Call John at 352-581-6174 or contact us online today.