Report: Florida No. 2 for Distracted Driving

Florida drivers get a bad reputation on a lot of fronts, and unfortunately, much of it is well-deserved. crash

We rank second in the country for having the most uninsured drivers (24 percent). We have the most bicycle accident deaths, the most pedestrian accident fatalities. We have more motorcycle deaths than any other state in the country (616 in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

So perhaps we shouldn’t be all that surprised that Florida has ranked as one of the worst states for distracted driving. According to a new study by an online auto insurance provider EverQuote, Florida ranks second only to Louisiana in terms of distracted driving habits. 

Although our Fort Lauderdale injury lawyers typically wouldn’t cite an auto insurance provider as an authority for crash victims, this study was noteworthy for the fact that it examined 2.7 million trips over 230 million miles driven. It conducted its analysis via users of its app, EverDrive.

The motion-sensing app calculated certain vehicle maneuvers – sudden acceleration, measured speeding, aggressive turning, hard braking while the driver’s phone was in motion. It did not record actions while the driver was not moving or when the phone was in sleep mode or even when the driver was using the hands-free device (though we know talking on the phone – even in hands-free – can be just as dangerous as texting).

What EverQuote’s findings suggest is that more than 90 percent of drivers across the country were distracted by their smartphone while behind the wheel at some point in the last 30 days.

Bear in mind too: This only involves cell phone distraction. Other forms of common distraction, such as eating, grooming, dealing with children in the backseat or changing the radio station, are not included here.

The findings are not all that shocking to local law enforcement officials in Fort Lauderdale, who told The Sun Sentinel they see distracted drivers pass every day. However, they are often powerless to do much about it, despite Florida’s anti-texting and driving law, F.S. 316.305. The reason is the statute makes texting while driving a secondary offense. That means police aren’t free to stop offenders solely for violation of that provision. Instead, law enforcement officers must first observe some other infraction or have other cause to stop the driver.

Many have argued this weak law makes it impossible for law enforcement agencies to truly get a handle on proper enforcement. Even when they do issue a citation, they can’t do so for merely talking on the phone and the fines are low. A new bill has been introduced that would bump up texting and driving to a primary offense. However, it seems unlikely to pass before the close of this legislative session at the end of the month.

The NHTSA recently released a new report indicating distracted driving crashes account for 15 percent of all fatal crashes and 14 percent of all police-reported crashes. In 2015, there were 3,500 people killed and 391,000 injured in traffic crashes that involved a distracted driver. Nine percent of all drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 involved in fatal crashes were reportedly distracted at the time of the collision. There were also 551 “non-occupants” (i.e., bicyclists and pedestrians) killed in these collisions in that single year.

Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Additional Resources:

Florida second-worst state for distracted driving, study says, April 12, 2017, By Wayne K. Roustan, Sun Sentinel

More Blog Entries:

Florida Ridesharing Insurance Bill Clears State Senate, April 10, 2017, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer Blog