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Florida drivers second worst in country for distracted driving

A recent study revealed that Florida drivers rank second in the nation for distracted driving. According to a representative for the company that collected the data, fatalities have increased due to phone use. Each day in the United States, 1,161 victims are injured and others are killed in car accidents involving a distracted driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, a representative also noted a link between prohibitions of phone use while driving and safer driving.

Texting while driving is not a primary offense in Florida. Drivers, however, can be cited for texting and driving in Florida if they have committed some other traffic offense. When a distracted driver has caused an accident resulting in injuries and harm to victims, citations and criminal charges may be used against them as evidence of negligence if the victim brings a claim for the physical, financial and emotional damages suffered.

The study also found that 92 percent of Americans use their cell phones while in a car. It is important that drivers refrain from texting, talking on the phone, emailing, sending tweets, checking Facebook, surfing the Internet, chatting or taking selfies. Awareness of the serious danger presented by distracted driving seems to be limited, as 96 percent of drivers believe they are safe drivers while 56 percent of drivers report using their phones while driving.

Using a phone while driving impairs cognitive function. For example, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, if texting while driving distracts the driver for 5 seconds while the driver is traveling at 55 miles per hour, the driver is, in essence, traveling the length of a football field with their eyes closed. In addition, hands-free use of a phone does not mean the driver's brain is not distracted. Lingering distraction results for 27 seconds after the driver has stopped texting or talking on their cell phone while driving.

Florida drivers are ranked second worst for distracted driving. The study collected data from 230 million miles driven on the country's roadways and a total of 20 million trips. Distracted driving can result in serious and deadly consequences for victims so it is important victims are familiar with the dangers but also the protections available to them through the personal injury legal process.

Source: Miami Herald, "Texting junkies: Florida's distracted drivers rank second-worst in U.S.," Linda Robertson, April 19, 2017

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