Dangers of Texting While Driving
Of all the distractions that can cause a driver to get into an accident, texting and driving is particularly dangerous. This activity can simultaneously cause a driver to look away from the road, take their hands from the wheel, and turn their focus onto something other than driving safely. Texting and driving is not only a risky driving behavior but, in many cases, an illegal one.
Here is a look at the dangers posed by texting and driving and the services an experienced car accident lawyer can provide to assist you if a driver who made the reckless mistake of texting and driving injured you.
The Dangers of Texting and Driving
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)—the governmental agency tasked with compiling information about traffic crashes occurring on public roadways throughout the U.S.—texting and driving is dangerous because you cannot drive safely without your full attention on the task of driving.
Three distractions can affect a driver’s safety on the road, including:
- Visual distractions: The driver takes their eyes off the roadway.
- Manual distractions: The driver takes their hands from the proper position on the steering wheel.
- Cognitive distractions: The driver’s thoughts stray from driving safely.
As noted, texting while driving involves all three types of driver distractions, as the driver is required to look at their phone to read or reply to a text, the phone is in their hands, causing them to remove that hand from the wheel, and they’re focused on the message they’re reading or replying, rather than what is going on around them.
NHTSA reports that more than 3 percent of drivers visibly manipulate handheld devices. While drivers of all ages can cause accidents while distracted by their phones, female drivers are slightly more likely to engage in texting and driving, as are younger drivers.
The Hazards of Visual Distractions
According to the NHTSA, when a driver is texting while traveling at a speed of 55 mph, they will travel the length of a football field without looking at the road. That is a significant amount of time for another vehicle to enter the roadway in their path, a traffic light to change, or even a pedestrian to step off of a sidewalk and into a crosswalk.
The Hazards Manual Distractions
Many individuals who obtained their driver’s licenses many years ago learned that the proper positioning of their hands on the steering wheel is at the 10 o’clock position for the left hand and the 2 o’clock position for the right. However, in recent years, the NHTSA has recommended that the proper position of a driver’s hands on the wheel be at the 9- and 3 o’clock positions to keep the driver’s hands out of the way if an airbag deploys.
Younger drivers are also taught not to cross their hands over each other when turning. Instead, a turn should be completed with the hands at 9 and 3 o’clock, with one hand pulling down on the wheel while the other pushes up.
According to a study from Keele University, around one-quarter of drivers drive with their hands properly positioned on the steering wheel. Forty percent of drivers in the study steer with one hand at least some of the time when driving. With both hands properly positioned on the steering wheel, drivers can maneuver their vehicles, particularly in emergencies that require sudden swerving to avoid an accident.
Additionally, the study revealed that drivers who used proper hand position when driving tended to be safer drivers in other ways, as well, including controlling speed. Drivers who were operating in situations they considered to be riskier were less likely to drive with both hands on the wheel.
The Hazards of Cognitive Distractions
Operating a motor vehicle often involves multitasking. To make a turn in traffic, the driver must ensure that they have the right-of-way, employ their turn signal, ensure that crosswalks are clear before completing the maneuver, and complete the turn without encroaching on other lanes.
If a driver is cognitively distracted, they can miss any of the steps required to complete a maneuver, potentially leading to a crash.
According to a white paper published by the National Safety Council, estimates indicate that drivers who using their handheld devices while driving look but fail to see up to 50 percent of the information in their driving environment.
While many states have enacted texting and driving laws in recent years, the National Safety Council notes that requiring cell phone use to be hands-free does not eliminate the cognitive distraction that is present when the driver is using the phone to communicate with others.
When drivers are not paying attention to the roadway at all times, they risk not having the time to react to traffic hazards, as the brain requires precious fractions of seconds to switch from one cognitive task to another.
The Types of Accidents Associated With Texting and Driving
A distracted driver can cause nearly any accident.
- Head-on collisions can occur when a driver takes their eyes off the road or their hand off the wheel and enters an opposing travel lane.
- Rear-end accidents can occur when the texting driver fails to notice that traffic ahead of them has come to a stop.
- Broadside (T-bone) collisions can occur when a driver fails to see or recognize that the light has changed and they no longer have the right-of-way.
- Sideswipes can occur when the driver fails to maintain their lane of travel while texting and encroaches on another travel lane.
- Rollovers can happen if a texting driver fails to negotiate a curve, causing the vehicle to leave the roadway.
What Florida Law Says About Texting and Driving
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), more than 2,700 people suffered serious bodily injury, and more than 340 died in one year on Florida roadways due to accidents caused by distracted drivers.
The increase in distracted driving accidents due to texting drivers led the state’s lawmakers to pass Florida’s Wireless Communications While Driving law. This law allows law enforcement officers to stop drivers who are texting and driving and prohibits the use of handheld wireless communications devices in school and work zones.
Compensation Available If You’re Seriously Injured in a Texting and Driving Crash
As explained by FLHSMV, drivers in Florida are required to obtain certain types of insurance to register their vehicles and legally operate them on public roadways. These insurance requirements include a personal injury protection (PIP) policy with a minimum of $10,000 in coverage and a property damage liability policy with at least $10,000 in coverage.
When car accidents occur in Florida, it is generally expected that those who were injured in the accident receive coverage of medical treatment and income loss by seeking compensation through their PIP policy, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
However, if the expenses of treating the injury exceed the limit of the PIP policy or the driver’s injuries meet the state’s serious injury threshold, they can file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party’s auto liability policy. Florida’s serious injury threshold includes permanent injuries, injuries that result in the permanent loss of use of a body organ or system, significant and permanent scarring and disfigurement, or death.
In most cases, personal injury claims must be filed within the state’s statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is four years after the injury occurred.
What Can You Seek Compensation For?
Those who have been injured in accidents caused by texting drivers can seek compensation for the expenses they incurred as a result of the accident, including all costs associated with medically treating the injury, income loss resulting from the injury being too extensive for the sufferer to perform the duties of their job, and even loss of future earning capacity resulting from permanent disabilities incurred in the accident. Claimants can also seek compensation for the repair or replacement of their vehicle that was damaged in the accident.
Not all costs of an accident injury are monetary, however. Claimants can also seek compensation for the impacts that their injury has had on their quality of life. Commonly claimed impacts include physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of the enjoyment of life.
How to Prove Liability in a Texting and Driving Accident
To have a successful resolution to a texting and driving accident claim, you must be able to prove that the other driver was liable.
Lawyers doe this by showing:
- The at-fault driver was using a public roadway and therefore owed a duty of care to other drivers to drive safely and legally.
- The at-fault driver breached this duty by texting while driving, which is a known driver distraction and is against Florida’s Wireless Communications While Driving law.
- This breach in the driver’s duty of care resulted in an accident in which you were injured. Because of that injury, you incurred expenses and impacts.
Hold Negligent Drivers and the Insurers Accountable. We Can Help
Drivers often operate with an “it can’t happen to me” attitude, with many choosing to text while driving despite laws and warnings from traffic safety experts about the dangers. A car accident comes with profound financial and psychological impacts, but insurance companies will fight against paying for the damages that the carelessness of their insured causes to others.
If a texting driver injured you, a personal injury lawyer can evaluate your case for free. They will explain your legal options and the services they can provide to seek the compensation you need.