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Rising Trends in Distracted Driving Accidents Across Florida: How to Stay Focused on the Road

Car Accidents

Distracted driving affects everyone: drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists. The results can be catastrophic, resulting in personal injuries, physical disabilities and even death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,000 people lose their lives every year due to distracted driving. 

The Florida numbers are particularly dismal. The Florida State Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports that there were over 48,000 car accidents related to distracted driving in 2021, which resulted in 300 people dead and over 2,700 seriously injured. Here are some other statistics:

  • Distracted driving deaths in Florida are at an all-time high, with an increase of 12% over last year.
  • Approximately 14% of all motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. involve distracted driving.
  • It is estimated that 5% of all fatal accidents nationwide involve a distracted driver.
  • The highest proportion of distracted driving accidents are caused by 15 to 19-year-old drivers.
  • Cell phone use is directly attributed to 13% of all distracted driving accidents. 

What Is Distracted Driving? 

As you can see, distracted driving is one of the most dangerous behaviors on the road today. But what exactly is it? And how does it impact your risks as a driver? In short, distracted driving is when drivers fail to focus their full attention on the act of driving and engage in other activities that take their attention away from the road. There are four kinds of distractions: visual, physical, auditory, and cognitive. 

Visual Distractions – Visual distractions are anything that takes your eyes away from the road. These distractions could be street signs, billboards, other cars on the road, pedestrians, local buildings, churches, restaurants, or even a sunset.  Visual distractions could also include your cell phone or your GPS. Things change quickly on the road, often in just seconds, so being focused on the road is critical for everyone’s safety.  

Physical Distractions – Physical distractions occur when you take one or both of your hands off the steering wheel while driving. This can include eating and drinking, texting, reaching for items that have fallen on the ground, or reaching into the passenger seat or back seat. By their nature, physical distractions reduce the amount of control you have over your vehicle. To keep yourself and others safe on the road, you must keep both your hands on the wheel at all times.

Auditory Distractions – Any noises that affect your ability to hear or otherwise take away your attention from driving are considered to be auditory distractions. They can include a phone conversation, a conversation with passengers, screaming children, ringtones, text notifications, or playing music at a high volume. Keep your music at a reasonable level, teach your kids about why you need to pay attention to the road and stay off the phone while driving.

Cognitive Distractions – Cognitive distractions happen when you divert your focus or attention to another task that requires your mental energy. Talking on your cell phone, even if it’s hands-free, creates cognitive distraction. Also, you should be aware that how you feel can impact your ability to drive. If you’re angry or sad, you may not be able to keep your mind on the road. Your reaction time slows down greatly when you are preoccupied. 

Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

Now that you know what comprises distracted driving, here are some tips to avoid being a distracted driver:

  • Focus all of your attention on driving. Be actively scanning the road and watching out for other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and road problems or debris. Watch your mirrors.
  • Secure possessions that could roll around in the car so you do not feel tempted to reach for them on the floor or the seat.
  • Make adjustments before you start. Get your GPS set up, and adjust your climate control, mirrors and sound systems before getting underway. Check traffic conditions ahead of time, and then decide on your route.
  • Finish dressing and personal grooming at home. Don’t brush your hair, apply lipstick or mascara, or engage in other grooming activities in the car. 
  • Don’t eat while driving. Either eat before you travel, exit at a rest stop, or pull over on a safe shoulder of the road. If you must eat on the road, avoid messy foods that can be difficult to manage.
  • Secure children and pets before starting your trip. Do not try to care for them while underway by reaching into the backseat. Pull off the road if you need to immediately attend to them. 
  • Put aside your electronic distractions. Except in true emergencies, do not use cell phones while driving – handheld or hands-free. Never use text messaging, email functions, video games, or the internet with a wireless device – even if they are built into the vehicle – while driving.
  • Encourage your passengers to alert you if they think you are engaging in distracted driving behavior. Make safe driving a family affair!
  • If something other than driving demands your attention, it’s best to pull off the road. Nothing is worth your life or the life of your passengers!

What Should You Do If You’ve Been Involved in an Accident With a Distracted Driver?

Being involved in a car accident is a distressing experience, especially when it’s caused by a distracted driver. In such situations, knowing what steps to take can help protect your safety, secure necessary evidence, and navigate the legal and insurance processes smoothly. Here are essential steps to take after being hit by a distracted driver:

1. Prioritize Safety:

The immediate aftermath of a car accident can be chaotic, but your safety should always come first. If you’re able to move, carefully exit your vehicle and move to a safe location away from traffic. Turn on hazard lights to alert other drivers to the accident scene.

2. Check for Injuries:

Assess yourself and any passengers for injuries. If anyone is injured, call emergency services immediately and provide first aid if you’re trained to do so. Avoid moving anyone who’s seriously injured unless there’s an immediate threat to their safety.

3. Call the Police:

Contact law enforcement to report the accident, even if it seems minor. Inform the dispatcher that the accident involved a distracted driver if known. A police report documenting the details of the accident will be crucial for insurance claims and legal proceedings.

4. Document the Scene:

Gather as much information as possible about the accident and the distracted driver. Take photographs of the accident scene, including vehicle damage, skid marks, and any relevant road signs or landmarks. Collect the distracted driver’s contact information, driver’s license number, vehicle registration, and insurance details.

5. Obtain Witness Statements:

If there are witnesses to the accident, ask for their contact information and statements regarding what they observed. Witness testimony can provide valuable support for your version of events and help establish the distracted driver’s negligence.

6. Seek Medical Attention:

Even if you don’t believe you’re seriously injured, it’s important to seek medical attention after being hit by a distracted driver. Some injuries, such as whiplash or internal trauma, may not be immediately apparent but could worsen over time. Follow up with a healthcare provider for a thorough evaluation and documentation of any injuries sustained.

7. Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company:

Notify your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident and initiate the claims process. Provide them with accurate and detailed information about the accident, including the involvement of a distracted driver. Cooperate fully with your insurer’s investigation of the claim.

8. Consult with a Florida Accident Attorney:

If you’ve been injured or are facing challenges in resolving insurance claims, consider consulting with a personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney can provide guidance, advocate on your behalf, and help you navigate the legal process to seek fair compensation for your losses.

9. Preserve Evidence:

Preserve any evidence related to the accident, including photographs, witness statements, medical records, and communication with the distracted driver and their insurance company. Avoid repairing or disposing of your vehicle until it has been thoroughly inspected and documented.

10. Pursue Legal Action, if Necessary:

If you’ve suffered significant injuries or damages as a result of the accident, you may have grounds to pursue legal action. Your attorney can help you assess the strength of your case, gather evidence, and pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit or settlement negotiations.

11. Follow Up on Medical Treatment:

Attend all scheduled medical appointments and follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations for treatment and rehabilitation. Keep detailed records of your medical expenses, as these will be important evidence in your insurance claim or legal case.

12. Stay Informed and Involved:

Stay informed about the progress of your insurance claim or legal case and actively participate in the process. Your proactive approach can help ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive fair compensation for your injuries and damages.

Contact A Florida Car Accident Attorney

You can control your own behavior, but you cannot control the driving habits of those around you. If you notice a driver who appears to be distracted, give him or her a wide berth and move out of their orbit as safely and quickly as you can. But if a car accident does happen and you or someone you love suffers personal injury or property damage, Searcy Denney can help you. 

Consequences of car accidents include significant medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering. If you’re not at fault, you may be entitled to compensation for these and other losses. We have decades of experience helping people who have suffered from car accidents. Contact a Florida car accident attorney today at 800-780-8607.

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Posted By: Bud Wilder