Distracted driving is a plague across America. Florida isn’t immune. In fact, with car accident injury attorneys noting the rising number of collisions overall, it’s no wonder traffic officials are citing inattention as a top concern heading into the busy snowbird travel season. Those in Orlando should be on special alert, given a recent report by WKMG Click Orlando, which revealed this county to be No. 1 in the state for distracted driving.
Reporters detailed the case of one such woman who was struck – and injured – twice in the course of just four months by other at-fault drivers – who in both cases were cited for distraction.
In an in-depth analysis citing Florida distracted driving statistics from state officials between 2013 and 2017, there were thousands of distracted driving collisions just in a single recent year. The Florida Department of Safety and Motor Vehicles revealed that since state legislators passed a measure allowing for secondary enforcement of texting-and-driving five years ago (F.S. 316.305), the number of distracted driving collisions and fatalities has not fallen. In fact, it has risen. Dramatically.
Orlando Car Accidents and Distraction – By the Numbers
The news agency reportedly gleaned five years’ worth of Orlando car accident statistics, more than 41,000 records in all. What they discovered was that during this time frame, despite this legislative effort to curb distracted driving crashes, those instances actually rose within Central Florida Counties – by 33 percent. That is a full one-third.
Rewind to 2013. Officials report there were 5,390 Orlando distracted driving accidents. Within three years, that figure climbed to 6,100. Then last year, officials reported just shy of 7,000 Orlando car accidents attributable to distracted driving.
Research analysts say the assertion that Orange County is a “very dangerous place to drive” is indeed an accurate one. This after an analysis of crash data from all 67 counties in the state. Among them all, Orange County was noteworthy for its distraction crash rate.
Specifically, drivers in Orange County were reportedly 2.5 times more likely to be involved in such a collision than your average Florida driver. In comparing large counties with over 1 million residents, Orange County pulled ahead at No. 1 by far for number of distracted driving crashes AND deaths.
At the start of the five-year Florida traffic statistic analysis, there were 19 distracted driving deaths reported. By last year, that figure spiked to 31. Throughout this time frame, a total of 106 people lost their lives in Orange County due to drivers who were distracted.
Meanwhile, a total of 74 tickets were issued in Orange County for violation of the state’s texting-while-driving law. It’s not necessarily that police aren’t watching for it. It’s that they can’t do much, given that the offense is considered a secondary as opposed to a primary offense.
Orlando Car Accident Attorneys and Insurance Claims
In Florida, the average insurance claim for a car accident varies depending on the severity of the crash, how many vehicles were involved, how much insurance each motorist has and the extent to which each was at-fault. State statute designates this as a no-fault auto insurance state, meaning drivers (except for motorcyclists) are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, which covers up to $10,000 in damages – including 80 percent of medical expenses and 60 percent of lost wages – regardless of fault. This assumes also that injuries were considered “emergent,” otherwise PIP claims are limited to $2,500. As Orlando car accident injury attorneys can explain, is only if injuries are severe, disabling and/ or permanent that one can step outside of that no-fault system and pursue damages against the other motorist (if he or she was at-fault). If the at-fault driver does not have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the claimant’s full damages, the person injured may file a claim for uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage, which is not required but comes standard with most Florida auto insurance policies. If a claimant is found partially at-fault, the total amount that can be collected will be proportionately reduced.
Other Florida Counties Don’t Fare Well Either for Distracted Driving
Before anywhere else in Florida starts crowing about its own numbers, consider that Miami-Dade reported 29 people killed in distraction-related collisions in a single recent year. In Hillsborough, it was 26 in a 12-month time frame. Where Marion County had 1 distracted driving death in 2013, it had spiked to 14 within three years.
Officials in Orange County and beyond are citing this data as a means to push for more stringent distracted driving laws to penalize offenders and deter others from engaging in this most reckless offense. As it now stands, one can only be pulled over and/ or cited for texting-while-driving if they have committed some other offense. (That’s what is meant by the offense being one that is “secondary.”) By boosting it to a primary violation, officials say, they’d have stronger grounds to initiate traffic stops and issue citations, hopefully serving as a greater deterrence. Currently, Florida is just one of our states that considers texting and driving to be a secondary offense as opposed to a primary offense.
Since that law was enacted, officials say nearly 1,110 Floridians have died from distracted driving car accident injury incidents. More than 39,100 such crashes were reported statewide in 2013, soaring to nearly 50,200 last year. That amounts to an increase of 28 percent.
Car accident injury attorneys in Orange County recognize the huge impact distracted driving has had on individuals and on this entire community. We are committed to fighting for the rights of crash victims in Orlando and throughout Florida.
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.
Orange County most dangerous place in Florida for distracted driving, Oct. 1, 2018, Click Orlando
More Blog Entries:
Florida Crash Lawyers Critical in Collisions With Multiple Insurers, Sept. 29, 2018, Orlando Car Accident Injury Attorney Blog