It is a phrase that was barely in our vocabulary when we made the jump into the 21st century. Today, "distracted driving" is a phrase almost every American knows as one of the biggest roadway safety issues. Three truths motivate our coverage of this issue:
We hope our coverage helps prevent distracted driving, but also ensures that people know they can turn to our Panama City distracted driving law firm if a distracted driver leaves them injured or kills a family member. While distracted driving includes a broad range of distractions, from a dropped french fry to a fussy toddler, today's post focuses solely on one major modern distraction – texting while driving.
Students at Graceville High School had the opportunity to take part in the "Arrive Alive Tour" last week, an education program that uses a simulator to drive home the dangers of distracted driving. As WJHG reported, the students used a mock car and virtual reality headset to simulate a roadway. While their peers watched on a monitor, the students attempted to text while also navigating the virtual road.
Students remarked that they thought they could easily handle the dual task, but they quickly learned they could not. The school principal reported overhearing kids saying that they would never text and drive after going through the program, an important step given the tendency of young people to feel immune from harm. According to Jackson County Sheriff's Deputy Jimmy Hamilton, they hope to bring in all students older than 15.
WJHG notes that distracted driving was a factor in nearly 39,000 Florida crashes in 2013. These incidents left 201 people dead and caused more than 33,000 injuries. Across the United States, more than 9 people die and more than 1,000 are injured every day due to distracted drivers. Chris Bennett, a representative of Unite International, a health and wellness group that created the Arrive Alive program, adds that most kids (and, we'd wager, most adults) don't realize that texting and driving causes four times more accidents that drinking and driving.
A separate study, reported on by CBS last May, found texting and driving now kills more teens than drinking and driving. One researcher noted this is less surprising when you consider that most teens do not drink seven days a week, but many do text daily.
Florida's texting-while-driving law, which we followed closely as it progressed from bill to law, went into effect last year. Knowing that the person whose actions injured you or killed your relative received a traffic ticket is little comfort, especially if you have had high costs that go well beyond the coverage of your Personal Injury Protection insurance. Victims or their families can, despite the no-fault system, sue for civil damages in the case of "serious injury" or death.
Auto accident cases are generally based on the concept of negligence, described in Florida Standard Jury Instruction 401(4), as "the failure to use reasonable care, which is the care that a reasonably careful person would use under like circumstances." There is little dispute, especially given the plethora of research, that texting while driving is negligent and should give rise to civil liability and, in turn, to civil damages.
If a distracted driver caused a crash that left you injured or killed one of your close family members, you have rights. Call our Panama City texting and driving accident attorney for help navigating the legal system. We can help you get the monetary compensation you deserve, whether the distraction involved texting or anything else that took the at-fault driver's attention away from the road.