Distracted Driving, the Deadly Epidemic on America’s Roads
May 11, 2015
Distracted driving has become rampant on roadways in Florida and across the country, outranking drunk driving as our nation’s leading cause of auto accident fatalities.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Next year, distracted driving is expected to surpass intoxicated driving deaths for the 7th year in a row” quote=”Next year, driving while distracted is expected to surpass intoxicated driving deaths for the seventh year running.”]
Distracted driving-related crashes have skyrocketed over the last decade, as smartphones, music players, and navigation systems have grown in prevalence. Too often, drivers forget that cars can be dangerous weapons when handled improperly, allowing their attention to drift away from the task of driving in order to answer a text message, bite into a burger, or change a song. Texting while driving is especially dangerous since it takes a driver’s eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off the task of driving.
As you read these words, approximately 660,000 drivers are texting, talking on a phone, or using an electronic device in our country. Studies have found that no demographic is without guilt—drivers of all ages, genders, races, and backgrounds admit to engaging in distracted driving behaviors while driving.
Below, we’ve listed some of the most common distracted driving behaviors by age group.
Dangerous Driving Behaviors in Different Age Groups
Teens. Around one in three teens between the ages of 16 and 17 have reported texting while driving. But texting isn’t the only dangerous driving behavior that teens are likely to engage in. Many teens also have admitted to reading, doing homework, and changing their clothing while driving. Additionally, teen drivers can easily become distracted by passengers, especially when those passengers are their peers.
Adults. A shocking 47 percent of adults who text say that they have texted or read a message while driving. Other common distracted driving behaviors among adult motorists that cause serious accidents include daydreaming, smoking cigarettes, and adjusting music or climate systems.
Seniors. Today, there are more drivers aged 65 and older on the road than ever before. Senior drivers are 16 percent more likely than younger adult drivers to cause a crash due to deteriorating health, slower reaction time, and the influence of medications. When seniors engage in distracted driving behaviors, it’s usually a recipe for disaster—and when senior drivers text behind the wheel, they are four times as likely to accidentally veer out of their lane than younger adults or teen drivers.
Countries across the Globe Crack Down on Distracted Driving
As distracted driving becomes increasingly prevalent around the globe, more countries are instituting strict laws to prevent these types of accidents:
USA. 14 states and the District of Columbia have laws prohibiting handheld cellphones while driving. In addition, new drivers are prohibited from using cellphones while driving in 37 states and the District of Columbia.
Canada. Drivers are fined hundreds of dollars for distracted driving in all 10 provinces of Canada.
Europe. Most European countries have laws prohibiting handheld cellphone usage while driving. In Ireland, for instance, distracted driving is treated and penalized just as harshly as drunk driving.
Japan. It is illegal to text or make phone calls while driving in Japan, and penalties include hefty fines and driver’s license points.
Australia. Drivers are permitted to use hands-free devices and cellphones as long as they are secured to a fixed mounting.
How Technology Can Help
Of course, in-car technology isn’t all bad. While technology is often the cause of many distracted driving accidents, it can also be used to prevent it. Today, there are a variety of apps for your smartphone specifically designed to prevent distracted driving behaviors, such as:
Drive First. Sprint customers enjoy a free download of this handy app, which auto-responds to incoming text messages and redirects calls to voicemail during a drive. While the app prevents drivers from texting or making calls during a drive, it does allow emergency calls to certain numbers.
Drive Mode. AT&T Drive Mode switches on automatically when a vehicle is in motion, auto-responding to text messages while allowing the driver to easily access music and navigation. Parents can even arrange to receive text message alerts if their kids ever turn off their app.
Safely Go. Verizon’s distracted driving prevention app, Safely Go, allows drivers to access only three important apps and receive calls from three key contacts while driving. Calls are enabled through Bluetooth and other hands-free devices.
Protect Yourself from Potential Accidents
No matter what age you are, there are several simple ways you can reduce distractions while driving and protect yourself from potential accidents. Making the road a safer place for you and the drivers around you can be as simple as powering down and planning ahead.
Put your phone on silent. Even the best of us can find it difficult to resist the urge to check our phones when we hear the buzz of a text or a call. You can eliminate temptation entirely by switching off your phone while driving, putting your phone on silent, or stashing it in the glove box where it can’t be seen or heard.
Map it out. Don’t wait until you start the drive to begin fiddling with your GPS—enter your destination into your navigation system and look over the route before setting out on your journey.
Treat your car like a car. Remember that your car isn’t a restaurant, break room, or office. Save eating, grooming, drinking, reading, and work for when you’re off the road.
You can raise public awareness of our country’s distracted driving epidemic by holding distracted drivers accountable for their perilous negligence. A passionate Florida distracted driving attorney can help you protect your rights and speak out against our nation’s dangerous new habit.
About the Author:
A partner at Lawlor, White & Murphey and a distinguished personal injury lawyer, Ben Murphey tries complex disputes that include civil appeals, maritime and admiralty claims, wrongful death, and labor disputes. Mr. Murphey has been recognized for his excellence in the area of personal injury litigation by being rewarded with a 10/10 Avvo Rating and named a Super Lawyers “Rising Star” for the last four consecutive years (2011-2014). Mr. Murphey regularly tries cases in state and federal courts around the country, being admitted to practice before all Florida courts and the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
About the Author:
Since 1994, seasoned litigation and trial lawyer Anthony B. White has helped thousands of accident victims seek damages due to injuries sustained as a result of another party’s negligence. Included in America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals and selected to the 2012, 2013, and 2014 editions of Florida Super Lawyers, Mr. White specializes in car accidents, insurance disputes, wrongful death, product liability, and medical malpractice cases. He is a longstanding member of the Florida Justice Association and the American Association for Justice and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Broward County Justice Association.