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Florida Car Accidents And Driver Distraction

February 10, 2009

Most people think nothing of getting into their car and automatically reaching for their cell phone. They (hopefully) fasten their seat belt, put the car in ‘drive’, and speed off while simultaneously dialing their cell phone or even texting a message to someone. The next time you are waiting at an intersection, count the number of cars that pass you with a driver holding a cell phone to their ear – you’ll be amazed. While having this technology is great for the stranded motorist or for someone who is safely pulled off on the side of the road phoning for directions, using a cell phone, programming a GPS, using a laptop or other gadget while operating a motor vehicle is distracting and extremely dangerous. In fact, driver distraction is one of the top causes of car accidents in Florida and across the U.S.

Did you know that, across the country, someone will die in a car accident every 12 minutes? Were you aware that, every 14 seconds across the county, someone is injured in an auto accident? When statistics tell you that about 25% of these accidents are directly related to driver distraction, you can see how many lives could be saved if people strictly concentrated on the road. About 2,600 deaths and 12,000 serious injuries per year nationwide are attributed to using a cell phone while driving, according to statistics from the National Safety Council.  The Council’s research indicates the use of a cell phone while driving increases the likelihood of an accident fourfold. A legislative bill was recently introduced in Florida which would ban the use of a cell phone for talking or texting, while driving.  The bill is known as "Heather’s Law," after Heather Hurd, a 27-year-old woman who was killed in Orlando in January 2008, when the vehicle she was traveling in was hit by a tractor-trailer.  It is suspected that the driver of the truck, who was charged with careless driving, was using some kind of handheld communication device.

If you are driving while distracted, your reaction rate is decreased by about 20 percent. This means you are going to take 20 percent longer to realize there is impending danger and either brake or swerve to avoid it. When you figure a car averaging about 40 m.p.h. will travel 164 feet from brake application to full stop including driver reaction time (about 1.5 seconds), it means the car traveled 88 feet before the driver even realized there was a problem and applied the brakes. Now, think about that same driver talking on a cell phone – it would take him or her an additional 33 feet of travel before they stopped for the danger – which means they are likely going to come through the back end of your car.

So, what can you do to avoid Florida car accidents caused by driver distraction?

  • Pull over to the side of the road to talk or text on a cell phone.
  • Don’t eat while driving.
  • Don’t apply make-up or shave while driving.
  • Don’t read while driving (this applies to reading a road map, too! Pull over if you are looking for directions).
  • Don’t send text messages.
  • Sit upright, with both hands on the wheel. If you are in an accident, airbags and the metal framing protection that is built into the vehicle isn’t going to help as much if you are slouching.
  • Confine your pet to the back seat or passenger seat. Pets don’t hold up as well as people in an accident because they instantly become projectiles in an impact.
  • Don’t watch movies on those portable DVD players.
  • Save the flossing for the times when traffic is stopped.
  • If you listen to music, either use the radio or put the CD player on shuffle so you don’t get distracted while changing CD’s.

As long as there are drivers in Florida, there will be Florida car accidents. People come from all over the country to enjoy the warm weather, beautiful beaches, and sunny skies. But, this means tourists will be trying to read road maps while driving, teens will be texting friends while driving, and commuters will be trying to groom and eat on their way in to work. They will be distracted so you should be doubly vigilant. Remember that your car is a 2,000 pound object hurtling through space and it just takes 3 seconds of inattention to cause a crash. Don’t be a statistic.

For more information about Florida car accidents, contact the Florida auto accident lawyers at Joseph M. Maus, P.A.at 1-866-556-5529 or email them today.

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