Texting while driving is among the most dangerous behaviors behind the wheel. Some studies equate it to drunk driving, often finding those texting while driving have reaction times similar to a driver with a blood-alcohol level of .08 - the threshold for drunk driving in all 50 states.
That's how Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Mark Wysocky sees it, according to an article in Claims Journal. From behind the wheel of his cruiser, he often has a hard time telling a drunk driver from a driver screwing around with a cell phone. They both speed up and slow down. They both weave. They both get too close to other traffic. They both endanger lives.
Yet our Longwood auto accident attorneys know Florida is among the worst states in the nation for both driver safety and enactment as well as enforcement of distracted driving laws.
Longwood Collisions Caused by Distracted Driving
Distracted drivers and texting drivers, in general, are a substantial threat on the road. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported nearly 50,000 distracted driving crashes in 2016, including nearly 250 deaths.
Florida was one of the last states in the nation to outlaw texting while driving and is now one of the last states in the nation to make it a primary offense. Under current law, Florida Statute 316.305, texting while driving is a secondary offense, meaning drivers can only be ticketed if stopped for another offense like speeding.
FOX35 reports the tougher measures are moving through the Florida legislature, although many say the measure doesn't go far enough. It would still allow motorists to text while in a stationary vehicle and would require law enforcement officers to inform drivers they have a right to decline a search of their wireless device.
Distracted Drivers in Longwood & Teens at High Risk
Studies continue to show teens are most at risk. But that doesn't let adults off the hook. For starters, the risks for adults are real. So is the opportunity to lead by example. Talking to your teen about the dangers can have a major impact, as by some estimates, more than half of all accidents involving teenagers are blamed at least in part on distracted driving.
No form of distracted driving is more dangerous than texting because it involves all three forms of driver distraction: visual, manual and cognitive. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate to severe crashes involving teenagers.
The most common forms of teenage driver distraction include:
- Cell phone use (12 percent of crashes)
- Interacting with passengers (15 percent)
- In-vehicle distraction (10 percent)
- Outside distraction (9 percent)
- Music (8 percent)
- Grooming (6 percent)
Teens continue to be involved in almost one million motor-vehicle collisions each year, resulting in more than 300,000 injuries and nearly 3,000 deaths. Considering the fact that young teen drivers are three times more likely to be involved in deadly crashes, talking to them about the very real risks of distracted driving is an excellent place to start when it comes to road safety.
It's become clear Floridians cannot wait on lawmakers to improve their odds. Going above and beyond the law is your best chance of improving your chances on Florida's treacherous roads. In the event of an accident, it's best to consult with an experienced auto accident attorney.