You see them in the media headlines almost daily – Statistics warning of the dangers of distracted driving. Here’s an example: in 2013, more than 3,100 people died and another 424,000 were injured in automobile crashes involving distracted drivers. But too often, we simply glance over these statistics without thought – until the issue hits home in a heartbreaking way.
Recently, a South Florida auto insurance agency conducted a visual survey to prove just how common an issue distracted driving is here in the Sunshine State. Armed with a video camera, surveyors drove through rush-hour traffic on I-95 and, in just 20 minutes, caught 2,151 vehicles speeding by. Of them, 185 – more than eight percent – were being driven by distracted drivers. Six percent of these drivers were eating, just over nine percent were texting and a whopping 81 percent were talking on their cell phones.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration defines distracted driving as anything that diverts a driver’s attention from effectively driving a vehicle. Categories include:
- Visual distraction: Taking your eyes off the road
- Cognitive distraction: Taking your mind off the road
- Manual distraction: Taking your hands off the wheel
Drivers who are distracted have slower response and reaction times and are prone to drifting into adjoining lanes. Texting is particularly dangerous because it involves visual, cognitive and manual distraction and draws a driver’s attention from the road for an average five seconds at a time. At 55 miles per hour, a vehicle can travel the length of a football field in that window of time. Florida banned texting while driving in 2013, but clearly, many of the state’s drivers continue to ignore the law.
Besides talking on the phone, texting and eating, other distractions noted in the survey included looking at occupants of other vehicles, reaching for something in the backseat, staring in the mirror and applying makeup.
If you or someone you love suffers an injury or loss in an accident involving a distracted driver, report the incident to police, get medical treatment and call 800-251-1111 to speak with an auto accident attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.