Distracted Driving a Serious Problem

Car crash
Distracted driving accounts for 9 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries every day

ORLANDO, FL — As law enforcement agencies throughout Florida zero in on the increasing number of traffic crashes both with and without fatalities on I-95 and elsewhere around the state, the scramble has been on to definitize the reasons behind this unrelenting surge in accidents.

Last year, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) took action and created “Drive to Save Lives” initiative. In Florida,

“The Florida Highway Patrol, along with the many law enforcement agencies along the I-95 corridor, are committed to public safety,” said Colonel Gene S. Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol in announcing the then-new campaign. “The I-95 Drive to Save Lives initiative will help reduce traffic crashes and save lives along one of our country’s busiest highways.”

In support of the Drive to Save Lives initiative, FHP placed its emphasis on changing high-risk behaviors of motorists, such as distracted driving, impaired driving, speeding, commercial vehicle safety and buckling up.

While driving under the influence and speeding are well-known causes of accidents and death on the highways, distracted driving, long suspected of being a substantial contributor to the increase, has had little statistical corroboration until now. According to a study authored by Maria Heart of the Cogburn Law Offices titled Distracted Driving Statistics, between 2005 and 2017 the number of people killed as a result of distracted driving accidents totals 53,714.

As high as that number is, however, Heart says crashes involving fatalities “are only a small fraction of total distracted driving accidents.”

Distracted driving is defined by the study as any act while driving that takes the driver’s attention away from the road. Not surprising, Heart says cell phone use while driving leads is a major cause of accidents– up to 1.6 million crashes every year.

Dialing a phone, the study says, is one of the most dangerous distractions: “A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (2016) found that dialing while driving increased a driver’s chance of crashing by 12 times and reading or writing increased the risk of crashing by 10 times.”

Texting while driving is especially dangerous. It involves taking your eyes off the road, your hand off the wheel, and your attention off of driving. At 55 mph, taking your eyes off the road for a mere 5 seconds is enough time for a car to travel the full length of a football field. More than 50,000 crashes were caused by distracted drivers in Florida in the year 2017 alone, resulting in 220 fatalities and 3,000 serious bodily injuries– and every day “approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured in auto crashes involving a distracted driver. (CDC, 2017)”

The numbers are shocking, but perhaps even more astounding is the observation made by the Cogburn study: “Even though the risks are clear, a recent survey found that a whopping 88% still use cell phones while driving.” Given the public’s penchant for the ever-present smartphone technology, awareness of the danger may not be enough to curb texting while driving down the road. While large majorities of drivers say they support laws against holding or talking on a phone, reading, typing, or texting/emailing while driving, the study notes that “at least once in the past 30 days:

  • 52.1% admitted to talking on a phone while driving.
  • 41.3% admitted to reading a text/email.
  • 32.1% admitted to typing a text/email

Click here to read the study in its entirety. It is detailed, informative and packed with research-based facts and statistics– including visuals like charts and graphs

SimpleDollar.com has also published an informative, practical guide that takes a sharp look at just how much your ticket for distracted driving will actually cost you.  Download it at www.thesimpledollar.com/.  

If you spot an impaired (or distracted) driver on the roadway, you can dial *FHP (*347) from a cell phone (okay, that’s by definition a distracting behavior) to make a report and perhaps save someone’s life.