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Florida’s Distracted Driving Statistics: What You Can Do to Stay Safe on the Roads

Florida Distracted Driving Accidents

Distracted driving is dangerous and far too common in Florida and throughout the country. If a motorist takes their eyes away from the road, even for a moment, it can have disastrous results.

Victims of horrific accidents caused by distracted driving suffer debilitating injuries and astronomical medical expenses. They are also left with uncertainty about their future and how they and their families are to move forward.

It’s important to understand what distracted driving is, how Florida is affected by it, and what you can do if you are ever involved in a distracted driving accident in Florida.

Distracted Driving—A Big Problem in Florida and the Country

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,533 people lost their lives in distracted driving accidents nationwide in 2021. In Florida, 333 fatalities occurred due to distracted driving in 2021, which is the highest number in the last eight years.

Other facts to consider regarding distracted driving in Florida:

  • More than 56,000 crashes occurred in Florida in 2020, and 75% of accidents resulted from a driver not paying attention behind the wheel.
  • More than 1,000 distracted driving accidents occur each week on average in Florida.
  • Within a recent four-year period, distracted driving crashes in Florida increased by 26 percent.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Any activity that takes your attention away from driving can lead to an accident, such as talking on your cell phone, sending a text message, eating while operating your vehicle, grooming, or daydreaming.

The CDC highlights three main types of distractions while driving:

  • Manual distractions: Taking one’s hands off the wheel
  • Visual distractions: Taking one’s eyes off the road
  • Cognitive distraction: Taking one’s mind off driving

While there are many ways a motorist can become distracted while driving, cell phone use has been the main culprit for years. Cell phone use while driving significantly contributes to distracted driving, and more than 90 percent of drivers nationwide admitted to using their smartphones in some capacity while operating their vehicles.

Distracted driving due to cell phone use is a particularly serious threat to Floridians’ safety. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill making texting and driving a primary traffic offense. Even so, drivers in Florida continue to use their phones while driving.

Other common distractions while driving include staring outside at a person or event, speaking to passengers in the car, being “lost in thought,” adjusting the climate controls or radio, and eating and drinking.

Preventing Distracted Driving Accidents—What You Can Do?

The best way you can prevent a distracted driving accident is to focus on operating your own vehicle safely. Passengers can help reduce distracted driving as well.

What Motorists Can Do

  • Do not multitask while operating a vehicle—this includes looking up directions, grooming, or eating
  • Put your cell phone out of reach while you are driving
  • Never check your phone, even if your vehicle is stopped at a light or an intersection
  • Only use your cell phone in an emergency, such as contacting 911 if there is an automobile accident
  • Make sure you pay attention to other drivers and the road, watching out for other distracted drivers or hazardous road conditions
  • Drive defensively

What a Passenger Can Do

  • If the driver is texting and driving, speak up and let them know they need to focus on driving
  • Help the driver by taking over navigation or any other task that may draw their attention away from the road
  • Don’t become or create a distraction to a driver yourself

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is incredibly dangerous. It often leads to devastating crashes that cause total vehicle damage and, worse yet, death and catastrophic, life-changing injuries, such as:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Deep lacerations
  • Bone breaks or fractures
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Chest injuries
  • Arm and leg injuries
  • Amputations

These injuries often require expensive medical treatment that can last for the rest of a victim’s life. Between the ongoing pain and suffering and medical bills that continue to pile up, distracted driving results in devastating consequences for victims and their families.

What to Do Following a Distracted Driving Accident in Florida

The time following a distracted driving accident can be stressful and overwhelming. However, the actions you take following a distracted driving wreck are critical not only for your safety but for your legal rights as well.

That said, keep in mind the following steps to take after an accident:

  • Call the police: After the crash, make sure you call 911. The EMS can quickly get to the scene and provide any necessary emergency medical treatment. The police will investigate the accident and write down their findings in their report. If you decide to bring a car accident claim, this report can provide you with valuable information about the accident.
  • Exchange information: If you are able to at the accident scene, you should get information from all the drivers involved in a crash, including names, contact details, and insurance information.
  • Take pictures: If you end up filing a lawsuit or a claim with an insurance company, evidence will be important, which may include photos from the accident scene. This may include photos or videos of your visible injuries, the vehicles involved in the crash, skid marks on the road, weather conditions, traffic signs near the scene, and any other evidence that may provide context for how the accident happened.
  • Write in a journal: As soon as you are able, write down everything you can remember about the accident, including the events leading up to it and what happened immediately afterward. Memories tend to fade quickly. A journal entry can help you remember what happened and can constitute evidence if you file a lawsuit or an insurance claim.
  • Get witness information: Get the names and phone numbers of any bystanders who witnessed the accident. Bystander statements are critical evidence that can help substantiate any eventual claims you bring. Some bystanders may, for instance, have witnessed the other driver engaging in the distracting activity that led to the accident.
  • Contact an experienced auto accident lawyer: Even if you are not sure whether you may have a legal claim, it is to your advantage to contact an experienced auto accident lawyer following your accident. These lawyers can go over your distracted driving collision, figure out what happened, and let you know what possible legal actions you can pursue.

Proving Distracted Driving in Florida

While distracted driving is one of the most common negligent acts that can lead to a motor vehicle accident, it is also one of the most difficult to prove. To bring a successful distracted driving claim in Florida, you need to produce evidence showing that the other motorist was not paying attention to the road and that their distracted driving led directly to the accident. The following are some of the best ways to prove distracted driving:

Expert Witnesses

In the event of a lawsuit against a distracted driver, an expert witness can provide testimony to explain how the accident occurred due to distracted driving. Under Florida law, an individual may qualify as an expert witness if they possess sufficient knowledge, skill, experience, education, and training in the pertinent field. In a distracted driving case, an expert can evaluate the evidence and testify that it is their opinion the collision took place because the other driver was distracted.

Evidence Collected After the Crash

The evidence collected immediately after the accident is often the most reliable and valuable to prove distracted driving. Such evidence may come from the police report. Police will take statements from all witnesses present, including from the distracted driver. The distracted driver may even admit to having been distracted. As a result, the police report with the defendant’s statements can constitute evidence in your case.

If a defendant denies being distracted, testimony recorded from other eyewitnesses may provide evidence to challenge the driver’s denial. In some cases, traffic or video footage can show how the car crash happened. Immediate evidence also includes anything you may be able to collect yourself, such as pictures of the accident scene.

How Much Time Do You Have to Bring a Distracted Driving Accident Claim in Florida?

If a distracted driving accident harmed you in Florida, you now have only two years from the accident’s date to bring a claim. If you do not file a claim within the applicable deadline, you cannot file a lawsuit or collect damages for the injuries you sustained.

Other factors may extend or shorten the length of time you have to file. In any event following your accident, you should look into your legal options as soon as possible. Contacting a knowledgeable auto accident attorney can be very valuable. These lawyers can go over your case and determine how much time you have to submit your claim.

Even if you have four years to file a lawsuit, you should not wait that long. The longer you wait to pursue a claim, the more likely it is you may lose critical evidence. For example, memories of the accident will fade, witnesses cannot testify, and other critical evidence can disappear. Losing such evidence may affect the outcome of your case or the amount of compensation you can recover.

How an Experienced Florida Auto Accident Attorney Can Help After a Distracted Driving Accident

Personal Injury Lawyer Orlando, FL - Michael T. Gibson
Auto Accident Attorney Michael T. Gibson

Distracted driving accident claims in Florida can be complicated and confusing. Not only do they require collecting extensive evidence to show that the driver’s distracted driving caused the accident, but they also demand a thorough understanding of Florida laws. Thus, retaining an experienced auto accident attorney can be very valuable in many ways.

The lawyers at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney offer free consultations, and they can sit with you and go over your case in detail, answer any questions you may have, and discuss the possible legal actions you can pursue. A personal injury attorney will be an invaluable asset for you and can help increase your chances of getting a favorable outcome for your distracted driving claim by:

  • Investigating the accident, gathering vital evidence, and interviewing relevant witnesses to prove the other driver’s fault.
  • Ensuring that all necessary legal filings are timely and accurate.
  • Handling negotiations with the insurance companies and fighting to obtain fair compensation for your injuries.

If the other side is unwilling to negotiate a settlement, you can take your case to trial, and your attorney can help you file your lawsuit and advocate for you in court to help you get the maximum amount of compensation you deserve.

Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney

2420 S. Lakemont Avenue
Suite 150
Orlando, FL 32814
Phone: 407-422-4529

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