Car Accidents Related to Cell Phone Use

Despite awareness campaigns and new laws banning texting while driving in Florida, it is still common to see drivers staring down at their cell phones while traveling. The American Association of Automobiles (AAA) reports that two-thirds of drivers admit to reading a text or an email while on the road. No doubt, you noticed this here in Jacksonville.

The risks of using a cell phone while driving are high. Looking down for just five seconds, which is the average amount of time a text requires, is long enough to travel the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour.

Not surprisingly, these brief glances away from the road result in devastating and often fatal car accidents. In fact, the National Safety Council reports that at least 28 percent of all traffic crashes – 1.6 million each year – involve drivers using cell phones for talking or texting. Think how many lives could be saved if drivers simply put their cell phones away while on the road. Some drivers mistakenly think that talking on a cell phone is not very dangerous. However, simply talking on a cell phone, even using a hands-free system, can distract drivers and delay reaction times. Some examples of careless driving caused by cell phone use include:

  • Temporarily taking your eyes off the road to dial a number or read a text or email.
  • Driving with just one hand on the steering wheel.
  • Failing to be observant on the road and pay attention to possible dangers.
  • Being distracted by a cell phone conversation, especially an emotional discussion.

One of the reasons texting in particular is so dangerous is because it distracts a driver in three different ways at the same time: visually, manually, and cognitively. While texting, drivers take their eyes on the road, one or both hands off the steering wheel, and their minds are focused on texting rather than driving. It is a recipe for disaster on the roads. Yet, drivers continue to take chances every day.

To help put the brakes on distracted driving, a new law banning texting and driving went into effect in Florida on October 1, 2013. This makes texting while driving illegal now in 39 states. Florida’s law considers texting while driving a secondary offense, meaning drivers will not get pulled over just for texting. Instead, drivers must be stopped for a different reason, like not wearing a seat belt or speeding, before they will be ticketed for texting while driving. On a first offense, drivers get a $30 fine; a second offense earns drivers a $60 fine.

In addition to receiving possible fines and points on driving records, drivers using cell phones may be considered at fault for a collision. Florida’s new law allows cell phone records to be used in a car accident investigation to determine whether texting may have contributed to the car collision. If so, the driver using the cell phone may be considered negligent and therefore liable for monetary damages suffered by the other driver.

Texting while driving is even more common among younger, less experienced drivers. A recent survey by State Farm Insurance shows that seven out of ten drivers age 18-29 text while driving. The same survey shows that a growing number of young drivers also access the Internet while behind the wheel. Parents can help set a good example by not adopting a “no cell phone use policy” while driving.

If you are involved in a car accident caused by another driver’s cell phone use while driving, it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side. The Lawrence Law Group, headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, is familiar with the nuances of cases involving car accidents related to cell phone use and can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free consultation today.