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The Driver Who Caused My Accident Was on the Phone - Jones Law Group

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texting while driving

The Driver Who Caused My Accident Was on the Phone

Is texting and driving more dangerous than drunk driving?

According to testing by Car and Driver, the answer is a resounding yes.  Car and Driver set up test conditions on an airport runway to determine how two driver would react when reading, texting, and while drunk. The test gauged reaction times by having the drivers apply the brakes when a red light inside the car was lit.  The drivers were tested at 35MPH and 70 MPH. 

Here’s how the test was setup:

  • First, both drivers’ reaction times were recorded at 35 mph and 70 mph without any distractions to get baseline readings.
  • Then, they tested them again while they read a text message aloud.
  • Next, they were tested while the drivers typed the same message in a phone text.
  • And finally, they tested the drivers braking time while they were drunk with no reading or texting. 

Here are the results:

Test Results at 35 MPH

Test Results at 70 MPH

When you look at just reaction times, both drivers were nearly twice as slow when texting as they were when drunk (0.64 seconds vs 1.36 seconds, and 0.60 seconds vs 1.24 seconds).

These numbers are just averages; the highest test results were far worse than the averages for each driver.  However, the averages clearly show that texting and driving, under optimal conditions had a greater effect on the reaction times of drivers. 

Despite these clear results, people still text and drive thinking it is not that dangerous.  This is despite government ad campaigns advising the public of the dangers of cell phone use while driving.  At Jones Law Group we have successfully pursued distracted drivers that cause accidents everywhere in the Bay Area from Tampa to Redington Shores.  We know that Florida is among the very worst states for distracted driving accidents injuring pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and the drivers and passengers in cars.

Teens and Texting

Teens are especially susceptible to the dangers of cell phone use while driving. Distracted driving is dangerous, and cell phone use while driving is a major factor.  The cocktail of inexperience and distracted driving is a deadly combination for young drivers.  Our beautiful beaches are loved by teens, but the combination of teen drivers and thousands of pedestrians is a recipe for disaster all along Gulf Boulevard and its hundreds of crosswalks from Clearwater Beach to Pass a Grille.

In 2018 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving was involved in 2,841 motor vehicle crash fatalities. Among those killed: 1,730 drivers, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians and 77 bicyclists. Knowing cell phone use while driving statistics and texting while driving facts may help families manage this dangerous crash risk.

Our instant gratification society and always thinking about the next social media post makes distracted driving by teens even more prolific.  Texting while driving and other cell phone use while driving facts and statistics show that this attempted multitasking while driving is becoming a life-threatening norm. Talking, texting or checking or sending social media posts takes eyes and brains off the task of driving.

Parents need to set the example by refraining from distracted driving. They must emphasize focused driving by the new drivers and make sure their children understand the value of engaged driving, where the driver is continuously attentive and focused. Make a family commitment not to use distracting devices while driving.

According to research conducted at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), teens who do not frequently use a phone while driving believe the benefits of putting away their phone while driving outweigh any drawbacks. For these teens, the benefits associated with not using a cell phone while driving include:

  • Being able to pay better attention
  • Being less likely to have a crash
  • Following the law

Parents need to provide teens with safe alternatives to cell phone use while driving, including texting and driving:

  • Complete any call or text before starting the car
  • Get directions and try to visualize the destination before turning the key
  • Check in with friends or parents only after arrival

Parents should also avoid calling their teen when he or she is driving. Instead ask to be called before leaving one place and when arriving at the next destination. A teen may feel compelled to answer a parent’s call if received while driving.

However, all is not lost because technology can also provide some answers.  There are many options and applications that can prevent teens from using their cell phone while driving.  Apple makes it easy for parents to set their teen’s phone to Do Not Disturb While Driving. All is not lost if you are not an I-Phone family. There are similar solutions for Android users, as well. 

For the parents that want to ensure their teens do not text and drive.  They might consider the ORIGOSafe.  This gizmo does not allow the driver to start the car until the cell phone has been inserted into the ORIGOSafe.  The phone is not actually locked away because this would be a life safety issue, but it does set off an alarm that notifies parents of the transgression.  It can also be set to not allow the car to restart until an administrator resets it after it has been removed while the car was in motion.

Can I Use My Cell Phone While Driving in Florida?

The Florida Legislature has implemented “The Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law.” The law basically state that a person cannot type or read on a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle.   This law does not prohibit the use of cell phones in this manner while the car is stationary.  Furthermore, the Florida Legislature has carved out the following exceptions:

  1. Performing official duties as an operator of an authorized emergency vehicle as defined in s. 322.01, a law enforcement or fire service professional, or an emergency medical services professional.
  2. Reporting an emergency or criminal or suspicious activity to law enforcement authorities.
  3. Receiving messages that are:
    1. Related to the operation or navigation of the motor vehicle;
    2. Safety-related information, including emergency, traffic, or weather alerts;
    3. Data used primarily by the motor vehicle; or
    4. Radio broadcasts.
  4. Using a device or system for navigation purposes.
  5. Conducting wireless interpersonal communication that does not require manual entry of multiple letters, numbers, or symbols, except to activate, deactivate, or initiate a feature or function.
  6. Conducting wireless interpersonal communication that does not require reading text messages, except to activate, deactivate, or initiate a feature or function.

Furthermore, Florida has banned the use of hand held cell devices within all school and work zones meaning all drivers must either be off the phone or using their phones in a hands free manner.  Many states have banned the use of hand held cellular phones altogether requiring all drivers to operate their devices in a hands free manner.   

What to do After a Texting and Driving Accident

Have you been the victim of a texting and driving car or motorcycle accident?  It is important to hire an attorney, so the evidence of the other driver’s inattentiveness can be preserved.  Jones Law Group is well versed in the art of ensuring key evidence is preserved and is available to present to a jury at trial. 

The dangers faced by motorcyclists are already heightened on the roads of Pinellas County.   Automobile drivers texting while driving has caused numerous injuries to motorcycle riders especially along the Park Boulevard corridor in Pinellas Park and along the East Bay/West Bay corridor in Largo.  Heavy traffic with unexpected stops and starts contributes to the dangers. 

Drivers have to be far more aware of motorcyclists.  It is a sad refrain that makes the blood of any rider boil when after a motorcycle accident, the cager says, “I didn’t see him.”  Texting while driving increases the odds of such negligence. 

From Clearwater Beach to St. Pete Beach, Pinellas County is home to some of the world’s most pristine beaches.  People from around the globe come to visit Indian Rocks, Madeira Beach and Treasure Island.  Many of our visitors and locals alike enjoy walking, running or bike riding along Gulf Boulevard. The number of people that traverse Gulf Boulevard make it a dangerous place for pedestrians and cyclists. 

The local government has made numerous improvements over the years to Gulf Boulevard by installing crosswalks which allow the users to set off flashers to stop traffic so that people may cross the road.  Over the years, I have noticed a few issues with these crosswalks:

  1. Pedestrians and bicyclists using them expect cars to stop immediately upon the pressing of the button.  It simply does not work that way.
  2. Cars and motorcyclists do not stop for the crosswalks.  This is incredibly dangerous and likely caused by distracted driving.
  3. Pedestrians and bicyclists do not press the button activate the lights to alert motorist to the presence of people in the crosswalk. 
  4. Pedestrians and bicyclists cross at places other than crosswalks, often it seems, within just a few steps of a crosswalk.

In short, these crosswalks are a wonderful invention.  However, the public needs to be educated on the proper use of these sidewalks and/or to use them as intended. 

Why is Texting and Driving so Dangerous?

Texting and driving is simply allowing yourself to be distracted while driving.  Texting is not the only type of distracted driving.  People eat and drive.  People drink (whether alcoholic or not) and drive.  In fact, just daydreaming while driving is distracted driving.  However, all forms of distraction can be divided into three main categories:

  • Cognitive distraction–This type of distraction occurs when a driver stops thinking about driving. For example, drivers who focus on a conversation they are having with a passenger are cognitively distracted. Reading or sending a text is a cognitive distraction.
  • Manual distraction–Drivers who remove their hands from the steering wheel are manually distracted. For instance, drivers who reach for something on the back seat of their car are manually distracted. Teenage drivers often get in accidents when adjusting the radio. 
  • Visual distraction–This type of distraction happens when drivers remove their eyes from the road in front of them. Drivers, for example, who look at a GPS device to get directions are visually distracted.

However, texting and driving is one of the most dangerous types of distracted driving because it combines cognitive, manual and visual distraction.  It is frightening to think that in the time it takes to glance at a phone, you can have travelled more than 100 feet.  That is correct, at 50 mph, 2 second glance means the distracted driver has travelled 157 feet. 

Why do people still text and drive?

One of the main justifications for this behavior was a belief that they could successfully multitask. Though statistics do not bear out their beliefs, people believe they can successfully text and drive. 

In a new survey, 98 percent of motorists who own cell phones and text regularly said they were aware of the dangers, yet three-quarters of them admitted to texting while driving, despite laws against it in some states. Two-thirds said they have read text messages while stopped at a red light or stop sign, while more than a quarter said they have sent texts while driving.

More than a quarter of the texting drivers believed they “can easily do several things at once, even while driving.”

Perhaps most shocking, more than 25% of drivers said, “They were worried about missing something important.” Unfortunately, that often turns out to be a motorcyclist, a pedestrian or another car.  It is time to put down the cell phones and concentrate on driving.

Were You Injured by a Distracted Driver and Need a Pinellas Park Personal Injury Attorney?

Pinellas Park occupies a large portion of Pinellas County and has some of the busier thoroughfares in all of the Tampa Bay Region.  Pinellas Park between its high volume of traffic and numerous intersections and roads that are among the most dangerous in the area sees its fair shares of car and motorcycle accidents. 

Pinellas Park is also home to numerous bar and night hotspots which contribute to the number of car accidents within its borders that have alcohol as a contributing factor.  Much like texting and driving, accidents in which alcohol was a factor require a thorough investigation and competent representation.

Whether your accident happened on US 19N, or at a dangerous intersection on Park Blvd, 34th St or 49th St or anywhere in between, it is important that you seek experienced representation.  Jones Law Group is an award winning law firm that has fought for the residents of Pinellas Park when they have been injured in an accident.

Our dedicated team will thoroughly investigate the factors that led to your accident and aggressively seek compensation from each responsible party. For a free consultation, contact us online or by phone at 727-571-1333.

Heath Murphy

About the Author

Heath Murphy is a partner at Jones Law Group and focuses on personal injury law. He has been working as a lawyer for 18 years and routinely writes about auto accidents, wrongful death, and personal injury laws.

Read more: Heath’s Bio