Distracted Drivers: Texting and Driving

If people are in a rush and hungry, they will stop by a drive-thru and pick up a meal. They will eat this meal while driving to their next destination. If a favorite song comes on the car radio, the instinct is to turn up the volume and sing along. If there are passengers in the car, there is conversation. If a person receives a text while driving, he will send a response back. These are all examples of distracted driving. A distracted driver is one that is not focused on the road.

Arguably, distracted drivers are equivalent to drunk drivers. Like drunk drivers, their actions on the road can lead to a series of unfortunate events. When it occurs in our area, these actions often cause Panama City automobile accidents that are fatal or involve personal injuries. Unlike drunk drivers, the consequences are usually not criminal in nature, but they can be if a death results.

Though there are many ways to become distracted while driving, the most pressing problem right now is regarding phone usage. Smartphones like the iPhone, Blackberry, and Android allow people access to email, internet, movies, and music, as well as talking and texting, from just about any location. Drivers are not intelligently using their smartphones behind the wheel of a car. A driver taking his eyes off the road to send a tweet or answer a text is a distracted driver.

A study conducted by AAA revealed 1 in 3 drivers will text while operating their vehicles. The AAA study also cited smartphones as the number one distraction for new drivers. Many of these new drivers are teenagers – 88% of those surveyed texted while driving. This statistic is particularly worrisome as teen drivers hit the road with their still-developing driving skills. Distracted drivers tend to swerve, brake, or speed up unnecessarily, cut people off, and have slower reaction times. However, teens are not the only ones succumbing to the need to constantly be in touch. Experienced adult drivers are driving distracted as well.

Florida statistics show that in the first 10 months of 2011, there were 2,218 vehicle accidents caused by electronic distractions. 145 of those were directly related to texting and driving. In fact, a person who drives while distracted increases his chances of getting into an auto accident by 23%. Statistics show that taking your eyes off the road to answer a text takes 5 seconds. For reference, 5 seconds is enough to travel the length of a football field. Imagine the damage that can be done within those 5 seconds. A pedestrian or a car could be hit, physically injuring those involved. Our Panama City car accident attorneys are aware of the dangers of distracted driving, and encourage those on the road to practice safe driving.

Thus far, 36 states have implemented distracted driver laws. Most states have included in these laws a ban on texting and driving. Currently, there are no distracted driver laws and no ban on texting while driving in Florida. But that does not mean that those hurt by this conduct don't have recourse. Our Panama City car accident lawyers are proud to represent local residents injured in auto accidents due to distracted drivers.

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