March 23, 2017

Florida Drunk Driving Facts

Florida Drunk Driving Statistics

roadsign of florida drunk driving facts and statisticsIn Florida and in all 50 states, Florida drunk driving (also called driving under the influence – DUI), remains a threat to public safety and motorists everywhere. Each holiday season, particularly on New Year’s Eve, hundreds of police checkpoints are set up across Florida to deter DUI.  Those who take their chances and decide to get behind the wheel after drinking face a high probability of being pulled over and arrested or, worse yet, involved in a deadly car crash.

DUI is a criminaloffense and local police expand their campaigns every year, especially during the holidays, to arrest drunk drivers. This year, Florida drivers are urged to enjoy the holidays responsibly and not to drive drunk. Those will plan on celebrating the New Year are encouraged to designate a driver, call a taxi, or make alternate transportation arrangements ahead of time.

14 Florida Drunk Driving Facts and Statistics 

100 percent of DUI accidents are preventable, yet DUI remains a major cause of deadly automobile crashes across the state of Florida and the US:

  • Across Florida, the vast majority of DUI-related fatalities occur on Friday or Saturday, with most accidents taking place between 3:00AM and 5:00AM.
  • In 2010, DUI-related accidents were responsible for nearly 30% of Florida’s traffic fatalities
  • In 2011, the Florida DMV recorded a total of 55,722 DUI arrests, of which 2,045 occurred in the Tampa Bay area
  • In 2012, Tampa DUI arrests fell by over 100 cases down to 1,912.  In 2012, Tampa had its lowest number of DUI arrests in 10 years (since 2002)
  • In 2012, there were 697 traffic fatalities caused by drunk driving in the state of Florida
  • In 2012, approximately 10,300 people died in the US due to accidents caused by drunk/impaired drivers
  • According to MADD statistics, Florida had experienced 716 alcohol-related traffic fatalities as of October in 2013 – that number is estimated to have increased by at least 10 since then
  • In Hillsborough County, Saturday night through early Sunday morning account for the highest percentage of DUI arrests each week over the course of any given 52-week period
  • Almost every 90 seconds, somebody is injured in a DUI-related car accident
  • Every day in the US, an average of 28 people die as a result of drunk driving accidents
  • The rate of drunk driving is highest among 21 to 25 year olds (23.4%)
  • At all levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the risk of being involved in a crash is greater for younger drivers than for older drivers
  • Florida has recorded a total of 113,076 3-time DUI offenders and 11,681 5-time offenders as of 2012
  • The legal BAC limit in Florida is 0.08% – The cost of a first offense DUI, including costs of legal defense, fines, and auto insurance increases, averages about $8,000 over a 3-year period.

Consequences of  Florida Drunk Driving

If a driver is involved in a motor-vehicle accident, he/she is likely to be at fault if his/her BAC is above 0.08%. That driver can be held liable for the costs of any injuries that result from the accident. If a fatality occurs, that driver can be found liable in a potential wrongful death suit – in addition to any criminal fines, probation, and other penalties.

DUI causes nearly three times the level of deaths and serious than texting/ cell phone use. Overall, it costs Americans millions in injuries, prosecution costs, lawsuits, and lost productivity. However, campaigns such as MADD have cut the number of annual DUI fatalities down by nearly 50 percent since 1980.

 

References:

 

DMV Florida – http://www.dmvflorida.org/florida-dui.shtm

 

MADD – http://www.madd.org/drunk-driving/about/drunk-driving-statistics.html

 

CDC – http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html

 

MADD – http://www.madd.org/drunk-driving/state-stats/Florida.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deadly Orlando, Florida Auto Accident

Wrong way crash claims two drivers’ lives on I-4

 

Last weekend on Saturday, November 30th, a catastrophic accident on Interstate 4 claimed the lives of two drivers. The spectacular collision resulted after one driver drove the wrong-way on the Interstate. A five-car pileup ensued, causing severe traffic delays for several hours that morning.

 

Orlando Police investigators are attempting to determine why the driver of a white Ford Explorer was headed the wrong-way in the east-bound lanes of I-4 last Saturday. The impact of the crash was so immense that both the wrong-way driver and the driver of a red Dodge Neon were killed instantly.  Lt. Jason M. Batura of Orlando Police told news reporters:

 

“This was probably one of the worst accidents I’ve witnessed in my 20 years.”

 

Orlando police say the crash most likely took place right before 6 a.m. In the minutes leading up to the six o’clock hour, dispatchers received multiple 911 calls claiming that a woman in a white Ford Explorer SUV was driving extremely fast in the wrong direction on I-4 in the downtown Orlando area.

 

Within a minute or two, the woman collided head-on with the red Neon.  The accident produced a horrifying chain reaction affecting three additional vehicles. None of those drivers were seriously hurt. Police have not yet released the identities of the accident victims. At this time, police do not know whether alcohol was a contributing factor.

 

This is the second deadly wrong-way crash to occur in southern Florida within the past 30 days. Marisa Caran Catronio died in another crash caused by a wrong-way driver on November 16th on the Sawgrass Expressway.

 

 

 

References:

 

My Fox Orlando – http://www.myfoxorlando.com/story/24103198/two-drivers-killed-in-wrong-way-crash-on-i-4#ixzz2mjasFPgN

 

Distracted Driving Laws and Variances by State

image of 2 distracted drivers hitting a pedestrianOn October 1st, 2013, Florida became the 41st state to enact a law against texting while driving; officially restricting the use of cell phones by drivers. The ban on texting while driving is presently a secondary law in Florida. A primary law means that an officer can ticket the driver for the offense without any other traffic violation taking place, while a secondary law means an officer can only issue a ticket if a driver has been pulled over for another violation (like speeding).

For this reason, Florida’s new law has been criticized as ineffective and weak. Many traffic safety experts feel the law needs much improvement in order to have any true impact on reducing distracted driving.

 

How Distracted Driving Laws Vary across 14 States

Many feel that Florida needs to adapt tougher laws against distracted driving, like those of other states such as New York and Illinois.  Laws regarding texting and mobile device usage while driving vary from state to state. The list below shows how Florida stacks up against a few other states with varying levels of distraction bans:

  • Florida: Texting is banned (secondary law), only while the vehicle is in motion. No ban exists regarding talking on a cell phone.

 

  • Georgia: Texting is banned (primary law). Cell phone use is banned for drivers under 18 (primary law).

 

  • California: Handheld ban for all drivers (primary law), ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (primary law), ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for drivers under 18 (secondary law), ban on texting for all drivers (primary law).

 

  • New York: Handheld ban for all drivers (primary law), ban on texting for all drivers (primary law).

 

  • Illinois: Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (primary law),

ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for drivers under 19 (primary law), ban on texting for all drivers (primary law) – Illinois bans the use of cell phones while driving in a school zone or in a highway construction zone – Handheld ban for all drivers (Primary law, eff. 1/1/14).

 

  • Maine: Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for drivers under 18 (primary law),

ban on texting for all drivers (primary law) – Maine has passed a general statute making it unlawful to drive while distracted in the state.

 

  • North Carolina: Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (primary law), ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for drivers under 18 (primary law), ban on texting for all drivers (primary law).

 

  • District of Columbia: Handheld ban for all drivers (primary law), ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (primary law), ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for drivers under 18 (primary law), ban on texting for all drivers (primary).

 

  • Texas: Ban on all cell phone (handheld and Hands-free) for bus drivers (primary law), ban on all cell phone (handheld and Hands-free) AND a ban on texting for all new drivers licensed for less than 12 months regardless of age (primary law), ban on texting for bus drivers (primary law), Texas has banned the use of handheld phones and texting in school zones. Texting is not banned in all other cases, provided the driver has been licensed for at least 12 months.

 

  • Arizona: Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for school bus drivers only (primary law).

 

  • Missouri: Ban on texting for drivers under age 21 (primary law).

 

  • Montana: No bans on distracted driving.

 

  • South Carolina: No bans on distracted driving.

 

  • South Dakota: No bans on distracted driving.

 

Don’t see your favorite or home state listed here? Interested readers can access distracted driving laws on all 50 states, as well as distracted driving resources and statistics at Distraction.gov.

 

 

References:

 

Distraction.gov – http://www.distraction.gov/content/get-the-facts/state-laws.html

 

ABC News – http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/state/texting-while-driving-ban-among-new-fla-laws

 

Distracted Driving Behaviors

license plate that says no textingWith all the technically advanced luxuries and amenities available today, more people exhibit distracting driving behavior behind the wheel. Common behaviors include text messaging, making phone calls or even eating breakfast on the morning commute.

 

The problem has grown into such a widespread threat to the motoring public that the U.S. Department of Transportation held a special two-day summit in late September. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) conducted a study that revealed nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention or distraction within three seconds before the event.

 

5 Distracted Driving Behaviors

 

The majority of drivers are guilty of some manner of distracted driving behavior at some point. The important thing for driver safety is to identify the behavior and commit to keeping it out of the car.

 

Text Messaging

 

Another component of the July 2009 VTTI study shows that texting is one of the most dangerous behaviors a driver can engage in. The study shows that drivers engaging in text messaging in a heavy vehicle or truck are 23.2 times more likely to crash than other non-distracted drivers.

 

The CDC has proven that texting is the leading cause of car accidents and traffic fatalities among teenage drivers. Each year, texting while driving claims at least 3,000 lives, the vast majority of which are teenagers. 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit to holding extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.

 

Dialing a Cell Phone

 

Dialing a cell phone while the vehicle is in motion is very dangerous because drivers are taking their eyes off the road. Speed-dialing can divert up to 3 seconds of a driver’s attention away from the road, while manual dialing can take up to 12 seconds. Drivers from the VTTI study who dialed phones were 2.8 times more likely to crash than non-distracted drivers. When driving heavy vehicles or commercial trucks, the drivers’ risk of a crash increased to 5.9 times. The VTTI study concludes:

 

“These results show conclusively that a real key to significantly improving safety is keeping your eyes on the road. By contrast, tasks such as listening to audio books (which VTTI terms as “cognitively intense”) come with much lower risks.”

 

Dealing with Children in the Car

 

Passengers inside the car can always be a distraction, but this increases whenever a parent is dealing with young children. Misbehaving and loud children don’t understand how their behavior affects the driver and endangers their own safety. Kids might bicker or throw tantrums, causing their parents to take their eyes and attention away from the road.

 

Playing with the Controls

 

As the navigation and entertainment systems inside cars become more complicated, the distractions facing the driver have increased in recent years. Touchscreens may be innovative, but because they offer no tactile feedback, they’re very difficult to use without glancing away from the road. Newer cars are coming equipped with redundant stereo and climate controls on the steering wheel, giving the driver less reason to take his/her hands off the wheel. Drivers should use steering wheel controls whenever possible.

 

Eating on the Go

 

Three percent of respondents in a 2008 Nationwide Mutual study claimed they believed eating was the most dangerous distraction while driving. Back in 2006, Privilege Insurance conducted a test in England to show how dangerous eating can be. In the simulator, drivers had to navigate an urban road once without eating, and a second time while eating or drinking at two intervals — just as a pedestrian stepped onto the road. The number of crashes doubled during the food and drink trial. The information was well-known, far before texting brought the national focus onto distracted driving in the US.

 

 

References:

 

US News – http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/5-Risky-Distracted-Driving-Behaviors/

 

CDC – http://www.cdc.gov/features/dsdistracteddriving/

 

Distraction.gov – http://www.distraction.gov/content/get-the-facts/research.html

 

Does my auto insurance travel with me?

picture of auto insurance premium In the state of Florida, like most other states, insurance coverage follows the car – not the driver. Your auto insurance generally does travel with you, but first think of insurance following the car before it follows the driver.

Suppose your car is in the shop and you borrow your mother’s car to run a few errands. Sure, you might have your own insurance policy, but your mother’s coverage is primary on her car. If you rear-end another driver, any claim that driver files will first go against your mother’s insurance and not yours. The same applies across the board. If mom borrows your car, any accident claims arising from an accident she causes will go against your policy first.

Coverage Out of State

Now, forget about borrowing cars but remember that insurance follows the car. This is also true when you drive a car out of state. Suppose you drive your own vehicle up to Asheville, NC for a two-week stay in the mountains. During your stay, the roads ice over and you slide slightly off the road and collide with a tree. Your car is damaged and requires $2,500 worth of repairs. Will your insurance protect you in the same way as if the accident happened in Tampa? The short answer is YES.

In Florida and nearly all other US states, policies are portable and in full force whenever the driver is travelling across state lines in his/her own car. Coverage benefits are based on the driver’s home address of record. Whatever coverage options you purchase based on your home state will be afforded to you in the event of an accident out of state. Your rates could still increase if you’re determined to be at-fault, but your coverage protection will be no different than if the accident had occurred a few blocks away from home. Your coverage travels with you remains in force in all 50 US states.

With regard to the Asheville, NC example, many auto insurance policies offer provisions specially designed to cover drivers travelling out of state. Some policies will even reimburse a driver for lodging while his/her car is being repaired, assuming the accident occurs outside of a designated radius. Drivers should check their policy to see if this coverage applies.

Generally, the only time out-of-state car insurance might be contested or deemed invalid is when the driver moves to a new state permanently. In that case, the driver is required to purchase a policy based in the new state to satisfy its unique coverage requirements. If your current provider also policies in both your old and new states, you must still notify your carrier of the address change. In most cases, your carrier will issue you a brand new policy to coincide with your new state of residence.

Coverage Outside of the US

Drivers should review their policy for applicable coverage outside the US. Most policies list provisions for coverage in Canada and Mexico. The majority of US policies extend their coverage into Canada, but not into Mexico. Canada upholds many similar traffic laws and safety standards as the US. Mexico is considerably less regulated and it may be far more difficult to pursue a property damage or theft claim in Mexico.

US states bordering Mexico (Texas, California) may offer auto insurance policies with optional coverage for those who frequently drive their own car in and out of Mexico. If this option is not available, separate supplemental insurance specifically underwritten to protect US drivers’ cars in Mexico should be purchased before crossing the border. Remember to review your specific coverage for policy details and ensure you’re properly protected before driving across any international borders.

References:

Esurance – http://blog.esurance.com/driving-out-of-state-does-your-car-insurance-travel-with-you/#.UoKCmPmsim4

At Fault Driver With No Driver’s License

What if the At Fault Driver Doesn’t Have a Driver’s License?

hello sticker of uninsured motoristThe Insurance Research Council reports that one in seven US drivers does not have car insurance. This figure includes those operating a vehicle without a driver’s license. An unlicensed driver may or may not have insurance coverage. Insurance coverage follows the vehicle, but in cases of other uninsured drivers, your uninsured motorist coverage would apply and benefits could be paid under it to cover any damages.

 

Unlicensed Drivers

Just because another driver does not possess a valid driver’s license does not necessarily mean that there is no insurance against which you might file a claim.  That driver’s license might be suspended, but he/she may still have insurance. In other cases, another person’s insurance might cover that vehicle – particularly if the driver was a friend or family member just borrowing the vehicle temporarily.

 

An unlicensed driver is operating the vehicle illegally. According to state law, any driver is not lawfully permitted to operate a motor vehicle on public roads. In most cases of assigning blame, an unlicensed driver is likely to be found 100% at-fault. Any driver who is cited or charged a traffic violation or other unlawful activity directly related to the accident will likely be found 100% at-fault when it comes to civil liability.

 

Uninsured / Unlicensed Motorists – Recovering Damages

In the state of Florida, like most other states, insurance coverage follows the car – not the driver. If a grandmother allows her teenage grandson to take the car to the supermarket, Grandma’s insurance covers her grandson even if he is unlicensed or uninsured. If the grandson rear-ends you while you’re waiting at a red light, you’ll be able to pursue a claim against Grandma’s insurance. Even if the grandson did have his own insurance policy, Grandma’s policy is still primarily responsible if an accident occurs.

 

The same rule applies to any case in which a friend, family member, or other associate borrows a car. The owner and primary operator’s insurance follows the car. In cases where the borrowing driver is unlicensed, that driver could be cited or even charged for operating without a license – but the insurance claims process will be the same.

 

However, what if the driver is the owner of the car and does not have a valid license? Though unlikely, this is a possible scenario. The same general rules apply. If the driver has insurance, you can file a claim against it, license or no license. If that driver is uninsured, you will need to pursue a civil claim against that person’s assets. Dealing with an unlicensed driver is not quite as tricky as dealing with an uninsured driver.

 

Uninsured Motorist Coverage – Protecting Yourself

Uninsured motorists, like those in Florida, are subject to citation and license suspension if they are caught driving without insurance coverage.  If they’re also caught driving without a license, misdemeanor charges and heavier fines could result. For the rest of the responsible, law-abiding drivers, choosing insurance options and coverage above Florida’s mandated minimum limits are recommended  to best protect a driver and his/her assets, especially in any potential case where that driver could share some of the fault.

 

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is not a mandatory option, but it will protect you in any case of an accident specifically involving another driver not carrying insurance. Make sure that your coverage limits are high enough to replace your vehicle in the case that an uninsured driver totals it. You might also consider higher coverage limits to address potential medical costs, such as a trip to the emergency room.

 

If such an accident takes place, this specific coverage option covers your vehicle’s repair/replacement costs through your insurance carrier and will not shift the blame to you – regardless of the other driver’s lack of coverage or license status.

 

References:

 

Esurance – http://www.esurance.com/insurance-resources/car-insurance-follows-driver-myth

 

Edmunds.com – How Much Car Insurance Do You Need? – http://www.edmunds.com/auto-insurance/how-much-car-insurance-do-you-need.html

 

Five Tips to Help Reduce Driver Distraction

picture of women on cell phone causing driver distractionIn Florida and across the US, more and more accidents are caused by driver distraction such as text messages, ringing cell phones, or their own lack of awareness. It only takes a second for a distracted driver to take his/her eyes away from the road and collide with another vehicle, motorcycle, or even a pedestrian.

Driver distraction is a major contributor to automobile crashes across the US. Each year, between 4,000 and 8,000 automobile accidents related to distracted driving occur.  Several of these accidents result in catastrophic injury or death.  In the US, distracted driving contributes to nearly 50% of all automobile crashes reported each year.

Tips for Avoiding Five Common Driver Distractions

  • Avoid Losing Focus and Prevent Driver Fatigue: Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night and abstain from driving if you’re sleep deprived. Avoid thinking ahead or worrying about plans while driving – work on keeping your attention on the road ahead and contemplate plans after you’ve arrived at your destination.
  • Put Down the Mobile Devices: Refrain from using your Smart phone to text, dial, talk, or surf the web while driving. Alternately, utilize a hands-free device or headset that allows you to keep your eyes on the road. Even with a hands-free device, limit conversations or only talk if the call is important. Tell the caller you’re on the road and finish the conversation after you’ve arrived. If a conversation ever becomes charged or engrossing, pull off the road and park somewhere safe while you talk.
  • Exercise Discipline over Roadside Driver Distraction: If you happen to pass by an accident scene, sign-spinner, or other out-of-ordinary scene, discipline yourself and keep your eyes focused ahead. Refrain from glancing over or straining to get a look at the “carnage” of an accident, especially while your vehicle is in motion. It only takes a split second of distraction to create your own accident.
  • Limit Conversations Inside the Car: Ask your passengers to talk quietly or not to distract you with conversation while you’re driving. It’s in everyone’s best interests to arrive safely. If you carry on a conversation with your passenger, resist the urge to look over at him/her. Keep your eyes ahead and focused on traffic, while remembering to glance in your mirrors. If the conversation becomes distracting or engrossing, just like with the cell phone, pull over, park, and finish the conversation before driving further. Alternately, wait until you arrive to continue speaking.
  • Leave Interior Controls Alone: Avoid the urge to adjust climate controls, radio settings, vent positions, or mirror positions while the vehicle is in motion. Never adjust a seat while the car is moving. Set these controls before you set out on your route. If you need to adjust the climate or radio, wait until the car is stopped and waiting at a red light or intersection. Alternately, opt for a vehicle with automatic climate controls and/or redundant climate and sound system controls on the steering wheel. More and more cars are now equipped with redundant controls on the steering wheel, virtually eliminating a driver’s need for a driver to move his/her hands.

 

 

 

References:

 

Insurance Journal – http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2013/04/04/287259.htm

Florida Texting Law

Florida’s texting while driving law is in effect

On October 1st, 2013, Florida became the 41st state to enact a law against texting while driving; officially restricting the use of mobile communication devices while a driver is behind the wheel. Earlier this year, Governor Rick Scott approved the legislation that has made it illegal to text and drive in the state of Florida.

Loopholes and Exceptions for Texting Laws in Florida

Texting while driving is presently a secondary offense. This means that police cannot stop a driver solely for the purpose of texting. For this reason, Florida’s new law has been criticized as ineffective and weak. Many believe that in its current form, the law will not effectively deter drivers from texting.

Officers and deputies from numerous municipalities have chimed in citing extreme difficulties in issuing citations. Safety advocates have consistently cited the new law’s obvious shortcomings, as officers who actually see a driver texting behind the wheel cannot pull that driver over unless he/she displays other unlawful behavior such as speeding or reckless driving.

Additionally, texting is only illegal while the car is in motion. A driver is allowed to text when the car is at rest, such as waiting at a red light. Officers may not ask to see a driver’s phone to determine if the person actually sent a message unless an accident causing serious bodily injury or death has occurred. While the law addresses texting, specifically, it also does not address dialing. Manually dialing a phone number can take the same amount of a driver’s attention away from the road as reading a text message.

South Florida Senator Campaigning to Strengthen the Law and Facilitate Police Enforcement

On the same day the law went into effect, state Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, announced a proposed bill that would toughen the existing law. Sachs wants to change the law to make texting while driving a primary offense. As a secondary offense, the law is virtually unenforceable. However, making the law a primary offense would empower police to stop and ticket any driver observed keying or reading a text message while the vehicle is moving.

The fine would remain the same, a citation for $30 for the first offense. However, Sachs’ bill would make it much easier for law enforcement to actually ticket drivers who text. If the law is passed, aggressive ticketing campaigns aimed at stopping texting drivers could be effective in modifying the behavior of those stubborn drivers who still insist on texting.  The ban is designed to do just that, to motivate drivers to leave the cell phone alone and keep their focus on the road.

Sen. Sachs cited some common statistics regarding texting and driving:

  • Texting-related accidents (distracted driving) are the leading cause of traffic fatalities for teenagers in the US, surpassing alcohol related deaths since 2011.
  • Reading a text message occupies a minimum of 4.6 seconds of a driver’s attention – at 55mph, a vehicle travels the length of a football field in that timeframe.
  • Teens that text and drive are 50% more likely to crash and six times more likely to be killed in a crash, than teens driving under the influence of alcohol.

References:

ABC Action News – http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/state/texting-while-driving-ban-among-new-fla-laws

Sun-Sentinel – http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/10/01/3661985/state-lawmaker-wants-tougher-texting.html

 

Five Tips to Help Reduce Distracted Driving

A driver is being distracted by his cell phoneIn Florida and across the US, more and more accidents are caused by drivers who are distracted by text messages, ringing cell phones, or their own lack of awareness. It only takes a second for a distracted driver to take his/her eyes away from the road and collide with another vehicle, motorcycle, or even a pedestrian.

Distracted driving is a major contributor to automobile crashes across the US. Each year, between 4,000 and 8,000 automobile accidents related to distracted driving occur.  Several of these accidents result in catastrophic injury or death.  In the US, distracted driving contributes to nearly 50% of all automobile crashes reported each year

Tips for Avoiding Five Common Distracted Drivers 

  • Avoid Losing Focus and Prevent Driver Fatigue: Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night and abstain from driving if you’re sleep deprived. Avoid thinking ahead or worrying about plans while driving – work on keeping your attention on the road ahead and contemplate plans after you’ve arrived at your destination.
  • Put Down the Mobile Devices: Refrain from using your Smart phone to text, dial, talk, or surf the web while driving. Alternately, utilize a hands-free device or headset that allows you to keep your eyes on the road. Even with a hands-free device, limit conversations or only talk if the call is important. Tell the caller you’re on the road and finish the conversation after you’ve arrived. If a conversation ever becomes charged or engrossing, pull off the road and park somewhere safe while you talk.
  • Exercise Discipline over Roadside Distractions: If you happen to pass by an accident scene, sign-spinner, or other out-of-ordinary scene, discipline yourself and keep your eyes focused ahead. Refrain from glancing over or straining to get a look at the “carnage” of an accident, especially while your vehicle is in motion. It only takes a split second of distraction to create your own accident.
  • Limit Conversations Inside the Car: Ask your passengers to talk quietly or not to distract you with conversation while you’re driving. It’s in everyone’s best interests to arrive safely. If you carry on a conversation with your passenger, resist the urge to look over at him/her. Keep your eyes ahead and focused on traffic, while remembering to glance in your mirrors. If the conversation becomes distracting or engrossing, just like with the cell phone, pull over, park, and finish the conversation before driving further. Alternately, wait until you arrive to continue speaking.
  • Leave Interior Controls Alone: Avoid the urge to adjust climate controls, radio settings, vent positions, or mirror positions while the vehicle is in motion. Never adjust a seat while the car is moving. Set these controls before you set out on your route. If you need to adjust the climate or radio, wait until the car is stopped and waiting at a red light or intersection. Alternately, opt for a vehicle with automatic climate controls and/or redundant climate and sound system controls on the steering wheel. More and more cars are now equipped with redundant controls on the steering wheel, virtually eliminating a driver’s need for a driver to move his/her hands.

References:

Insurance Journal – http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2013/04/04/287259.htm

 

Florida’s New Texting and Driving Law Lacks Grit

With Gov. Rick Scott’s signature, Florida recently became the 41st state to impose some sort of ban on texting while driving, but now that a bill’s finally passed everyone isn’t exactly jumping and cheering.

Texting while driving makes the risk of a crash or near crash event for heavy vehicles or trucks 23.2 times as high as non-distracted driving, studies from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found. Further, researchers found that it takes the drivers eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds over a six-second interval, which equates to a driver traveling the length of a football field at 55 mph without looking at the road.

Outweighing the research, there are countless stories of teenagers and families who’ve been harmed in accidents related to texting while driving. We  know the danger of texting while driving, so after years of false starts to bills in Florida to ban texting and driving the pressure was on to act. However, critics say this new law is too weak for teenagers, or anyone for that matter, to take it seriously.

That’s because the Senate Bill 52 would not allow anyone to be cited for just texting while driving. It can only be enforced as a secondary violation and a first offense may only cost someone a $30 fine.

Kirk Bryson called the new law “a joke” in his June 24 editorial in the SunSentinel newspaper.

“A broken tail light warrants a stop, but texting does not? These legislators need to be removed from office and replaced by people with common sense,” Bryson said in the article.

“If texting while driving is more dangerous than driving while intoxicated, which is what study after study has proven, what was Gov. Rick Scott thinking, signing this useless bill into law? There is no way this spineless law is going to stop texting while driving and everybody knows it.  Texting while driving needs to be treated like DWI and carry a similar penalty, not a $30 fine.”

While it may still be difficult to stop drivers from texting, there are also other state laws against reckless and aggressive and careless driving that may be violated if a driver is distracted by texting while driving. If you or someone you know has been injured or tragically killed due to someone who failed to follow the common sense rules of the road then please contact us to find out more about your legal rights.