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Safe Drivers in Southwest Florida Not Just a Phone Call Away

You may just be a bad driver — with or without a cell phone.

Our Fort Myers personal injury lawyers understand how common it is for traffic accidents to involve at least one driver who is distracted. Recently we wrote about a pledge against distracted driving and, of course, Florida’s failure to pass a distracted driving law is well documented.
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Now, however, we report a study to which veteran injury attorneys would likely give credence: If you are a driver who routinely uses a cell phone behind the wheel, you might be just as bad of a driver without it. Science Magazine reports in this month’s issue that you can take the risk away from the driver but you might not be able to take the driver away from the risk.

The study looked at the driving habits of 108 Boston commuters using on-board sensors and data collectors during 40-minute test drives on I-93 north of the city. No cell phones were allowed on the trip but drivers were divided into two groups: Those who reported using a cell phone frequently behind the wheel and those who did so rarely. Drivers were also questions about speeding, passing other cars, running traffic lights and their history of traffic infractions.

When compared to those who avoided using a phone behind the wheel, the cell-phone drivers drove faster, changed lanes more frequently, spent more time cruising in the left lane and were more likely to brake or accelerate abruptly or excessively.

“It’s clear that cell phones in and of themselves impair the ability to manage the demands of driving,” said Bryan Reimer, an engineer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge and one of the study’s leaders. “(But) the fundamental problem may be the behavior of the individuals willing to pick up the technology.”

In other words, those who are not responsible enough to avoid distractions behind the wheel were also more likely to engage in other dangerous driving behavior. Researchers believe the findings may be one reason why motor vehicle fatalities reached historic lows during the economic downturn, despite the exploding popularity of the smartphone.

It may also be why laws against cell phone use by drivers may not be as successful as hoped when it comes to reducing accident risks.

The AAA Foundation noted it has seen similar results in its traffic safety culture index. Drivers routinely point to distracted driving and other dangerous driving behaviors as a significant threat to road safety, even as they admit to engaging in some of those same behaviors themselves.

The takeaway here is that you need to accept responsibility for your behavior behind the wheel and do your part to make the roads safer for everyone as we prepare for the winter tourism season.

If you’ve been injured in Southwest Florida, contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 800-283-2900 to discuss your rights. There is no costs or fees unless you win.