Distracted driving continues to be one of the most underreported causes of car accidents in Florida. During 2018, there were over 150,000 distracted driving accidents reported. However, how many more drivers failed to state the real reason they crashed into another vehicle?
The consequences of distracted driving can be costly. Drivers may be financially liable for the damages caused by the accident. Car accident victims may sustain life-threatening injuries or permanent impairment because of a distracted driver.
Even though state and federal campaigns try to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, the number of distracted driving accidents continues to increase in Clearwater and throughout Florida.
Six Reasons Drivers Are Distracted Behind the Wheel
Let’s discuss six of the reasons why distracted driving is on the rise in Florida.
1 - Increases in Cell Phone Use
Florida’s Wireless Communications While Driving Law went into effect on July 1, 2019. The intent was to require drivers to put down their cell phones to focus on driving.
Drivers are prohibited from texting while driving and using a wireless communication device in specific locations. However, the law does not prohibit drivers from talking on a cell phone while driving.
Even when a driver does not hold a cell phone while driving, the act of talking to someone on a cell phone can be just as distracting. The driver’s mind is not focused on the traffic and the road ahead when engaged in a conversation with another person. Therefore, the risk of a distracted driving accident remains high.
2 - Being in the Car More Than Ever Before
Clearwater traffic has increased substantially over the past decade as more people move or visit the area. We also spend more time in our vehicles. Running errands, going to work, taking children to school, going to extracurricular activities, and shopping are daily and weekly trips for most of us.
Because we are in the car more, we tend to multitask. With busy lives, we rush to get from one place to another.
Therefore, we eat meals in the car, put on makeup, and even change clothes. Any activity other than driving is a potentially deadly distraction.
3 - New and Increasing Features in Vehicles
Setting and changing controls in a vehicle is a common driving distraction. With the addition of more features and options, the chance for distracted driving increases. Increasingly complex onboard audio and video systems require a driver to look away from traffic and remove his hands from the steering wheel.
Adjusting windows, mirrors, seats, sunroofs, climate control, GPS, and other settings can cause drivers to look away from the road for more than a minute. That is more than enough time to crash into another vehicle or object.
4 - Passengers, Children, and Pets
We travel with our families, friends, and pets. Many families spend a great deal of time in the car together. However, more people and pets in a car increase the number of distractions for the driver.
Reaching to take care of a pet or child could cause a car accident. Having a conversation with passengers can take your mind off the road and traffic conditions. Unfortunately, there is no way to control this type of distraction except through personal restraint.
5 - Increasing Number of Teen Drivers
The number of teen drivers continues to increase on Clearwater roads and highways. Teen drivers lack the experience to handle certain driving conditions. They need to focus their full attention on driving.
However, distracted driving is one of the common reasons for teen driving accidents. The use of cell phones and electronic devices while driving is high among teen drivers. Also, having several passengers in the vehicle is common.
Parents can help decrease the risk of teen distracted driving accidents by using apps that control phone use while driving. Some apps can monitor speed and driving behavior that indicate when a teen is driving while distracted.
6 - Overconfidence in Driving Skills
Many drivers are overconfident in their driving abilities. They believe they can operate their vehicle safely while multitasking.
Many people do not believe or do not heed the educational campaigns about the dangers of distracted driving. It can be difficult to believe that a distracted driving accident can happen to you. However, that was the belief held by most drivers before they caused an accident because they were distracted while driving.
Working to Make Clearwater Roads Safer
All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles safely so that they do not put others on the road in danger. Understanding the dangers of distracted driving and taking steps to avoid distracted driving is the best way to protect yourself and others from injury and harm.