April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In honor of the 3,450 victims who lost their lives in distracted driving accidents in 2016, we at Harrell & Harrell want to explore the dangers of this bad habit and spread awareness in the Jacksonville community. You might know you should not drive distracted, but you may not fully understand the risks. We hope these facts and statistics inspire you to make a different decision moving forward – the decision to save lives by saying no to distractions behind the wheel.
Three Categories of Driver Distraction
A driver can experience distraction in three main ways: manual, visual, and cognitive. Each threatens the driver’s ability to safely control a vehicle in its own way.
- Manual distractions take a driver’s hands away from the wheel, making it difficult or impossible to adequately control the vehicle. Examples of manual distractions include fiddling with the radio, holding a hamburger, or applying lipstick.
- Visual distractions remove a driver’s eyes from the road. They can make a driver miss changing roadway situations, such as a child darting out into the road. Examples of visual distractions include looking at a map, reading billboards, and staring at a roadside accident.
- Cognitive distractions take the driver’s mind off the driving task. Cognitive distractions can impair judgment and delay reaction times. Examples include thinking about your last conversation, arguing with a passenger, or driving while upset.
Cell Phones: The Nation’s Deadliest Distraction
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that during daylight hours, around 481,000 drivers are using their cell phones behind the wheel. Those drivers are endangering the lives of everyone around them by failing to dedicate 100% of their attention to the road.
Sending or reading one text at 55 miles per hour is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blindfolded. Cell phones are the most dangerous form of driver distraction because they fulfill all three categories: manual, visual, and cognitive distractions.
Looking at one’s phone takes the eyes off the road, one or both hands off the steering wheel, (except when using a hands-free device), and the mind off of the driving task. This can make it impossible to react to dangerous situations in time to avoid a collision. Using a cell phone illegally is a breach of a driver’s duty to exercise reasonable care. Using a device to text and drive is also illegal in the state of Florida. Breaking these rules could make the at-fault driver liable for damages in an accident.
Florida Distracted Driving Accident Statistics
In 2017, police officers attributed over 3,700 car accidents in the state of Florida to distracted driving. An EverQuote Auto Insurance study the same year found Florida to be the second-highest state for distracted driving rates in the country. The study analyzed driver behaviors through an app and found that 44% of Florida’s drivers use their phones while driving.
Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident?
Florida distracted driving accidents can cause serious and fatal personal injuries. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a collision with a distracted driver, contact Harrell & Harrell for a free consultation. You may have grounds for a personal injury case.