The study was conducted by the online insurance firm EverQuote Inc. Although we normally wouldn’t highlight the findings of an auto insurance company as any sort of gospel, EverDrive, the motion-sensing app used to conduct the analysis gleaned information from some 2.7 million trips and 230 million miles driven. Plus, these same kinds of results have been underscored in previous studies on distracted driving.
What the findings showed was that more than 9 in 10 drivers across the country who have cell phones used those phones while in a moving car at some point in the previous month. Study authors created a point system that analyzed certain maneuvers, such as bard braking, speeding, aggressive turning, sudden acceleration and other movements while the phone was in use (not in sleep mode). Based on this calculation, Florida was ranked the second-worst.
It’s not a surprising find, according to South Florida law enforcement officials. Authorities in Fort Lauderdale were quoted by the Sun-Sentinel as saying they regularly view drivers typing on their phones, snapping photos or talking. Some have even had close encounters on the interstate while conducting traffic stops. Other drivers passing, they say, fail to move over and sometimes even swerve out of the lane of traffic – often because they’re looking down at a phone.
Unfortunately, even when officers do spot an offender and are in a safe position to initiate a stop, they can’t do so because Florida’s texting while driving law, F.S. 316.305, is a secondary offense. This means police are not able to initiate a traffic stop based solely on a violation of this offense. Instead, they must first observe some other offense, and only then can the texting-while-driving citation be issued. But even when fines are imposed, a first-time offense will cost a violator just $30 – pittance compared to the enormous personal and societal costs of distracted driving, which has been cited as one of the causes of the recent uptick in national traffic deaths. Authorities estimate 40,000 people were killed last year on American roads, and a substantial number are attributed to driver distraction.
It’s tough to exactly define the scope of the problem because when there has been a crash, it’s often up to the offender to admit they were distracted. If they were on a smartphone, it’s possible investigators could seize the phone and analyze data to determine whether the person may have been sending or receiving messages at the time of the collision.
Florida is one of just five states where law enforcement officers are not allowed to pull over a driver specifically for the offense of driving while texting.
A Boca Raton state House representative has introduced a bill that would increase texting while driving penalties and make it a primary offense. However, the legislative session ends next month and its chances of passing before then are slim.
The state department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports there were nearly 50,000 crashes involving Florida distracted drivers last year. That’s more than five collisions every single hour.
Our car accident lawyers in Fort Lauderdale are available to help those who have been adversely affected by distracted drivers.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Florida second-worst state for distracted driving, study says, April 12, 2017, By Wayne K. Roustan, Sun Sentinel
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Distracted Driving Alleged in Bus Crash That Killed 13, April 19, 2017, Car Accident Lawyer Blog