All too often residents of Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter find themselves the victims of a motor vehicle accident. A driver is stopped for a red light waiting for the light to turn green, when, out of nowhere, they are rear-ended by a distracted driver.
While local and state governments try to curb these types of crashes, they are still very common. In fact, according to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles 2020 Distracted Driving Crash Dashboard, in 2020 alone, there were 48,488 motor vehicle accidents in Florida caused by distracted driving. Of this number, 2,747 resulted in serious bodily injuries, and tragically, nearly 300 resulted in deaths.
WHAT CONSTITUTES DISTRACTED DRIVING
There are three main types of distracted driving: visual, manual and cognitive. Visual distractions refer to situations where drivers take their eyes off the road. Manual distractions occur when drivers take their hands off the wheel. And finally, cognitive distractions happen when drivers’ minds are focused on anything other than driving.
When it comes to distracted driving, most of us think of texting while driving. Texting while driving is definitely one of the most dangerous driving distractions. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 full seconds. At 55 mph, that is like driving an entire football field with your eyes closed.
EXAMPLES OF DISTRACTED DRIVING
There are many types of distracted driving that cause or contribute to Florida car crashes including:
- Use of cell phone including sending or receiving text messages;
- Talking on a cell phone;
- Having Your Ear Buds in:
- Looking at social media while driving;
- Using a navigation system while driving;
- Adjusting the AC in your vehicle;
- Playing with the radio;
- Drinking while driving, and not just alcohol;
- Eating while driving;
- Grooming yourself while driving, including brushing your hair or putting on makeup;
- Reaching for things in the backseat or on the floor;
- Driving while sad or angry;
- Pets in the car; and
- Paying attention to the kids or other passengers.
LAWS TO PREVENT DISTRACTED DRIVING
Florida, like many other states in the nation, have passed laws to encourage drivers to put their phones down and focus on driving. The Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law found at Florida Statute Section 316.305 went into effect in July 2019. This law allows officers to pull over and issue citations as a primary offense for motorists that are texting and driving.
This law states, in relevant part,
“A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple
letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communication device or
while sending or reading data on such a device for the purpose of non-voice interpersonal communications, including but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, emailing and instant messaging.”
Additionally, in an effort to improve roadway safety in school and work zones for vehicle operators, passengers, bicyclists, pedestrians and other road users, the Florida legislature also enacted Florida Statute Section 316.306. This statute prohibits using wireless communication devices in a handheld manner in school or work zones.
In addition to placing lives and property at risk, violation of these laws can result in a ticket, fine and even points on your license. Points on your license can result in an increase in your insurance rates and follow you around for years.
Being mindful is the first step for Florida drivers to prevent these types of crashes. Each of us can do our part to put away the distractions and focus our eyes, hands and minds on the road.
The Attorneys at Smith, Ball & Báez Injury Lawyers have been representing victims of distracted drivers for over two decades. If you or a loved one have been involved in an automobile accident caused by a distracted driver, HELP is just a call away. Smith, Ball & Báez, 561-500-HELP (4357) or 772-500-HELP (4357.) www.smithball.com