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distracted driving in floridaIn the 21st century, advances in technology have allowed us to be instantly connected to anyone and anything. This instantaneous ability to communicate with everyone, while convenient, is not always appropriate – especially when driving! A study performed by Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT) showed that phone distraction occurred during 52% of trips which resulted in a motor vehicle accident.

While phones are a big player in distracted driving accidents, distractions while driving are anything that can either take your hands off the wheel, your eyes off of the road, or your focus off of driving. Behaviors, such as, eating, tuning the radio, using GPS, interacting with passengers, daydreaming, putting on makeup, etc. are all examples of common distractions for drivers.

Texting and Driving in Tampa, FL is Unfortunately Common

Distracted driving in Florida continues to rise, the number of distracted driving crashes has increased 25% since 2013, according to the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP). The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle 2016 Crash Facts Report reported the total number of crashes that occurring in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties alone came in at 46,758 crashes. If 52% of those crashes were a result of phone distraction as suggested in the CMT study, then over 24,314 of crashes in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties were caused by distracted driving; that is 6% of the total number of crashes reported (395,785) in the state of Florida in 2016. Those numbers do not even take into account crashes caused by non-phone related distractions. Even with these shocking statistics, it is estimated that the percentage of crashes resulting from distracted driving is grossly underrated because there is often not a way to determine a driver was distracted at the time of the accident after the accident has occurred.

FHP Director Col. Gene S. Spaulding calls distracted driving, an “extremely risky behavior that not only puts drivers and passengers in danger, but others out on the road as well”. He went on to say, “focused attention on driving increases your reaction time to dangerous driving situations, helps to prevent crashes and save lives.” A study by the National Institute of Health tested drivers in an advanced driving simulator with a distraction that originated in the periphery (i.e. a pedestrian entering a crosswalk) while talking on the phone, reported reaction times were 40% longer while engaged in a phone conversation. The distance a vehicle travels from the time a person sees, actually recognizes, and physically reacts drastically affects a vehicles stopping distance; a mental or physical distraction can directly affect the times it takes for a vehicle to stop. It can take even a focused driver at 50 mph almost an entire football field before being able to come to a complete stop.

As of October 2018, Florida law does not aid in decreasing instances of distracted driving as it is not illegal to talk on a phone while driving and texting while driving is only a secondary offense in Florida (statute 316.305 (5)), meaning violators would have to be pulled over for a primary offense, like speeding, before they can be fined for also texting; therefore, combating distracted driving in Florida starts with Florida drivers commitment to remaining distraction-free while operating a motor vehicle. Below are a few tips to begin driving distraction-free…

Distraction-free Driving Tips

  • Parents should talk with their children about responsible distraction-free driving and model good driving behaviors
  • Silence, turn off, install a “Do Not Disturb while driving” software, or secure phone in an unseen place before driving
  • Ask any passengers to help you stay focused on driving by limiting conversation and other distractions
  • Save phone calls while driving for emergency situations only
  • If you must talk on your phone while driving, try to avoid phone conversations during hazardous driving conditions (heavy traffic, severe weather, around an accident or road construction, etc.) and keep calls short

If you believe you have been a victim of a motor vehicle accident in which the driver of the other vehicle was distracted, contact the attorneys at Franco Law (813-873-0180) for a FREE consultation to get the representation you deserve!

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