Turn it off-Distracted Drivers in Florida
It probably comes as no surprise for anyone driving in Brevard County that Florida took the number 2 spot for the most distracted drivers. It seems everywhere we go, someone is texting and driving. They think it won't matter, but texting and driving can have deadly consequences.
A recent insurance company study ranked Florida second in the country for having the most distracted drivers. EverQuote looked at drivers who used their cell phones while driving and the aggressive driving behaviors that resulted. Those behaviors included hard braking, speeding, sudden accelerations, and other aggressive driving actions. Actions that a driver texting had to make because they were not watching the road.
Louisiana drivers got first place in a contest that no state wanted to win. Sadly, Florida got second place.
Distracted driving causes serious accidents. In one of our recent wrongful death cases, the passenger in the car was killed when the driver texted her boyfriend while driving on I-95. The driver is now facing criminal charges for the death of our client's mother. Our client is the child of the passenger who was killed due to the recklessness of the distracted driver.
The Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles reported that nearly 50,000 accidents in Florida last year were caused by distracted drivers. But how many more drivers did not admit they were on the phone? Of the drivers that admitted to using their phones, or as in our case, that an investigation proved the driver was on their cell phone, 200 wrongful deaths and more than 4000 personal injuries were reported. We can assume that the number is substantially higher due to non reported cell phone use by drivers that caused accidents..
You may already know that Florida law prohibits police officers for stopping a driver for the sole reason of being on their cell phone. Texting and driving is not a "primary offense" so a police officer must have another reason to pull a driver over and then add distracted driving to the ticket. This law may soon be changed. If you are pulled over for texting while driving or if you are involved in an accident caused by distracted driving, it is important to contact a lawyer to ensure your rights are protected. The Law Office of Arna D. Cortazzo, P.A. would be happy to discuss this with you.
A bill has been introduced in the Florida Legislature that would make texting and driving a primary offense. Opponents of this legislation argue that police would use this offense as an excuse to pull drivers over when they have no real reason to do so and for racial profiling. Florida Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, refuses to hear the bill and raises concerns about police searching through people’s cellphones and the potential for racial profiling..
Some car manufacturers have installed programs that will not allow smartphones to be used while the car is moving. Joining in the battle to make roads safer are insurance companies who don't want to end up paying out large settlements or jury awards due to accidents caused by distracted drivers. These insurance carriers are now offering lower premiums for drivers who agree to allow their phone to monitored while they are driving. Drivers who leave the phone off will get breaks in their insurance premiums. But beware, it will have the opposite outcome if a driver uses their phone while driving.
But it's not just texting that we should be worried about. As technology improves, so do distractions for drivers. If you have purchased a new car recently, you have seen computers in cars, touch screen technology and other advancements that distract drivers. A driver can't pay attention to the road while playing with the touch screen. Accidents result. Will lawmakers address these distractions as well?
If you are injured in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation for those injuries. Please call us to discuss to learn more. Call us at (321) 690-2363 and we will be happy to answer your questions.