April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
Distracted driving killed more than 3,500 people on the nation’s roads last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In those cases, driver distraction was determined to be a primary factor in the fatal collision. However, the true number is much higher because distraction often is not revealed as a factor of causation. By some estimates, 4 in 10 collisions, or some 15,000 deaths per year, involve some form of distraction. These hidden risks are another reason why thorough investigation by an experienced car accident law firm in Fort Myers or Cape Coral should be conducted as soon as possible after a serious or fatal collision.
Driver Distraction in SWFL
When it comes to driver distraction, the focus is often on cell phones and with good reason. Talking on the phone, texting, and using social media, are primary threats because they involve at least two of the three forms of distraction – cognitive, visual and manual. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reminds drivers that F.S. 316.305 makes it a primary offense to manipulate a cell phone while a vehicle is in motion for non-emergency reasons. Although exceptions exist for using maps or GPS, or reading weather alerts or emergency messages. In truth, it is a weak law that is not consistently enforced. Motorists need to understand and respect the risks and avoid using hand-held devices regardless of the legal threat.
In addition to hand-held devices, there are many other common forms of driver distraction, including:
- Using in-car electronics, including radios and navigational devices.
- Talking to passengers.
- External distractions such as accidents or construction projects.
- Eating or drinking.
- Traveling with pets.
We all know traffic has been terrible in Southwest Florida, particularly since Hurricane Ian made landfall last autumn. Distraction takes your focus off the road, which reduces or eliminates the time you have to react to a hazard or road conditions unfolding in front of you. Your ability to drive defensively is one of the best measures to keep you from being involved in a serious or fatal collision. Regardless of whether you are found liable, the serious injury or death of you, a friend or loved one, in a collision that could have been avoided, is always a tragedy.
The problem is particularly acute in Florida because of the large number of older drivers and visitors on the road. Accordingly, Florida has begun using “Safe phone zone” signs to encourage motorists to pull into rest areas or other safe locations when using a cell phone. However, our car accident lawyers in Cape Coral and Fort Myers also encourage you to respect the other distraction risks and resolve to focus on driving as we enter the long summer travel season. Doing everything possible to keep you and your family safe by driving defensively and proactively is always preferable to navigating the aftermath of a serious or fatal “accident.”
If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.