As cell phones have become a regular part of American life, using a mobile phone while driving is now a leading cause of accidents. Each year, more Floridians get in serious crashes due to not driving safely, with cell phones being a big part of the problem.
And what are Florida drivers doing with their phones that create such unsafe conditions? Most of the time, they’re simply answering a text.
Distracted Driving Statistics
Texting while driving falls under distracted driving, one of the leading safety threats on Florida’s roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines distracted driving as follows:
“Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system, anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving. Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”
A look at the distracted driving statistics and the harm caused by texting while driving serve as a painful glimpse into Florida’s most prominent threat to drivers and passengers. For example:
- According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, distracted driving led to 346 fatalities in Florida in 2021, the highest death rate reported in at least seven years.
- Distracted driving accidents caused 2,728 serious bodily injuries in Florida in 2021.
- More than 56,000 distracted driving crashes occurred in Floria in 2021, with 75% of crashes taking place because the driver was inattentive. From beach traffic to bridge jams, Floridians face attention-demanding traffic situations every day, and there is no time or extra attention for texting.
Floridians Know Distracted Driving is Dangerous, and Now It's Illegal
To promote public safety, prevention, and awareness and to reduce crash statistics and individual Floridians’ risk for a car accident, the Florida State Legislature passed the Wireless Communications While Driving Law in 2019. Quoting the law:
“A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data on such a device for the purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging.”
Drivers, especially younger drivers, may think there’s nothing wrong with quickly sending a text while driving. They might make sense of doing so by texting with just one hand, or by using the voice-to-text feature. But as the research data shows, moving one’s attention off driving and onto something else is all it takes to create a distracted driving situation.
The details of how one texts and drives are irrelevant. All forms of texting, and all forms of distracted driving, can result in a serious car accident. Promoting safety by ending distracted driving is crucial for kids, adolescents, adults, seniors, and everyone who gets in a car, whether they are the driver or a passenger.
Causes and Effects of Texting and Driving, A Tip on What You Can Do to Stop Distracted Driving
The leading research in safe driving has shown that the best strategy for combatting distracted driving is to educate people on the risks of this activity. Many people don’t see texting and driving as dangerous. To them, it seems somewhat unwise, perhaps, but mostly harmless. Many people think, “Maybe other drivers can’t do this safely, but I can.”
The truth is, no one can safely drive while texting, and all distracted driving is harmful. Nationally, this is a life-threatening driving habit that kills over 3,000 people annually. Thankfully, when people are informed of the harm, they are less likely to text and drive.
With that in mind, the best way to stop distracted driving is to get educated on it and inform others of this dangerous habit.
Resources for Further Support and Information
Thankfully, there are multiple organizations and nonprofits dedicated to educating and informing the public on the risks of distracted driving. Beyond state-organized public health institutions like the NHTSA and the FLHSMV cited above, the organization End Distracted Driving (EndDD.org) is a leader in raising awareness of distracted driving.
After losing their daughter, Casey Feldman, to a distracted driver in 2009, parents Joel Feldman and Dianne Anderson created EndDD.org and have since delivered over 900 presentations to 200,000 students and adults. This group offers speaking events in schools and community centers, with an easy sign-up form to request a speaker. This organization also designed a network of over 200 volunteers, enabling them to put on public information events and helpful, informative speeches/seminars in schools all across the country (at no cost to the schools).
When asked why we have not been able to significantly reduce distracted driving crashes, Feldman was very blunt. “No one thinks distracted driving is dangerous when they do it, but we all complain when we see others driving distracted. So distracted driving is a story of hypocrisy, and that includes moms and dads telling their kids not to drive distracted, but then driving distracted with their kids watching.” But Feldman is optimistic that young people can change the way we look at distracted driving and make it socially unacceptable. His current projects include working with Harvard researchers on one of the most comprehensive teen distracted driving studies ever conducted, and getting into elementary schools to teach kids about distracted driving long before they get their licenses. To learn more, go to EndDD.org.
Legal Assistance for Those Affected
Magazine Law Group cares about the issue of distracted driving. That’s why the team launched a campaign of going into local schools and delivering presentations to driver education classes. Magazine Law hired a tow truck to bring a totaled car that was destroyed due to distracted driving, and Magazine Law showed this car to students while giving their presentation. Getting students up close and personal with a car that was destroyed (and the driver killed) delivered the message that distracted driving is lethal.
Magazine Law Group will continue educating the community about the threat that distracted driving poses to drivers, their passengers, and other motorists, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians on the road. And if you or someone you know has been the victim of a distracted-driving accident, please call Magazine Law Group at 727-499-9900.