The National Safety Council has declared April Distracted Driving Awareness Month. This day of reckoning originated with a mother whose nine-year-old daughter was killed by a distracted driver who was looking at her cell phone while driving her SUV and struck Erica Forney, who was riding her bicycle, head-on. She died tragically two days later, on Thanksgiving in 2008. Her grieving mother, Shelley Fortney, founded a distracted driving advocacy group named Focus Driven, which is aimed at reducing accidents, injuries and fatalities from distracted drivers, which has only increased with the advent of technology from cell phones to car radios to navigation/GPS systems. In sum, your full focus while driving needs to be on the road and everything else can wait. Unfortunately, many drivers especially in Florida do not follow this rule and tragedies continue to happen.
While cell phone use tops the list of potentially deadly distractions, it is by no means the only activity to cause drivers’ attention to wander. As briefly mentioned above, other risky actions include talking on the phone or to others in the car, fiddling with your settings or radio station, drinking coffee, applying makeup, combing one’s hair, or gaping at events on the side of the road. Even a momentary distraction can lead to a fatal crash.
In 2020 alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving was responsible for 3,142 deaths. Most of these deaths were caused by young drivers between ages 16-24, who have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers have since 2007, but drivers in other groups are also to blame.
What are the Do’s and Don’ts to observe while driving distraction-free?
- Pull over to send a text, ask a passenger to send and respond to texts for you, or install hands-free capability in your vehicle.
- Consider putting your cell phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of the vehicle until you arrive at your destination.
- Installing a cell phone mount if you are relying on a cell phone map to give you directions.
- If you are a driver, remind your passengers that your priority is to safely arrive at your destination, and ask them to kindly refrain from calling your attention to distracting sights or other goings on.
- Let your friends know that you will not respond to phone calls or texts while you are on the road.
- If you are a passenger and your driver is texting or otherwise distracted, ask the driver to stop and focus on the road.
- Take a pledge to refrain from texting while driving and ask your friends to do the same. Spread the word on your favorite social media platform.
- Scroll through apps, perusing through social media, or talk on the phone while driving. Cell phone use can be habit-forming.
- Multi-task such as engaging in personal grooming, flipping through radio channels, or eating or drinking.
- Take your eyes off the road to read a text. This activity can distract you for 5 seconds, enough time to collide with another vehicle, a pedestrian, or cyclist.
During part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, from April 4 through April 11, you may notice increased law enforcement on the roads and highways as part of a concurrent national media campaign called U Drive, U Text, U Pay. This campaign reminds drivers of the deadly dangers and the legal consequences of texting or talking on the phone while driving – including tickets, fines, and possible civil and criminal charges.
On April 7. state highway safety offices and law enforcement agencies across the country will take part in a related initiative, Connect to Disconnect. During this four-hour event, officers will ticket drivers for violating their state’s or local jurisdiction’s cell phone or texting ban. At the current time, forty-eight states, including Florida, along with the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers, and 25 states and territories prohibit drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving. However, with respect to Florida, the data suggests distracted driving continues to be a serious problem. In fact, according to The Florida Highway Safety And Motor Vehicles, distracted driving crashes resulted in 338 fatalities in 2021, which is the highest recorded in Florida in at least 8 years. On average, per the FLHSMV report, there were more than 1,000 distracted driving crashes every week across Florida in 2021.
When you look into the statistics deeper, you can see the full extent of the problem, and how many Floridians have been impacted by distracted driving crashes especially in South Florida:
2021 – Statewide Distracted Driving Statistics
- Fatalities: 338
- Serious Injuries: 2,681
- Crashes: 57,474
2021 – Palm Beach County Distracted Driving Accidents
- Fatalities: 14
- Serious Injuries: 97
- Crashes: 2,434
2021 – Broward County Distracted Driving Accidents
- Fatalities: 13
- Serious Injuries: 114
- Crashes: 5,392
2021 – Miami Dade County Distracted Driving Accidents
- Fatalities: 15
- Serious Injuries: 117
- Crashes: 4,146
We urge all drivers, during Distracted Driving Awareness Month and all months, to put safety first and refrain from texting, talking on, or touching a cellphone while driving. However, if you or a loved one are hurt or killed by a careless or distracted driver, do not hesitate to call The Datny Law Firm at 561-221-7474, your Boca Raton Car Accident Lawyer, to discuss how we can help you recover for your losses or injuries. We proudly represent clients injured by distracted drivers in Boca Raton, Wellington and throughout Florida.