You are 600% more likely to get into a car accident when you're distracted by your cell phone while driving, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
Distracted driving accidents, such as those caused by texting and driving, are entirely preventable. Just give your full attention to driving.
Everybody knows they're supposed to do that, but look around next time you're in traffic and you'll probably see plenty of people looking at their cell phones instead of paying full attention to the road!
And the consequences of driving distracted can be extremely serious. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2015 distracted driving was a major factor in 3,477 traffic deaths and 391,000 injuries.
Texting while driving is one of the worst distractions since you have to look at your phone, use your hands to type, and think about what you're writing. In the few seconds you take your eyes off the road to text your car can travel hundreds of feet. In that time pedestrians could walk into the road or cars could stop and you won't have time to react.
Legal status of distracted driving
In Florida, texting and driving is prohibited, but it's not a primary offense. That means you can't be pulled over for texting and driving, but you can be fined for it if you're pulled over for something else. Florida is one of the only states in the country where texting and driving is not a primary offense. We're also consistently rated as a state with among the worst drivers in the country.
Avoiding distracted driving
To avoid driving distracted yourself, you can try using pure willpower to just not look at your phone. But willpower is limited.
You can also use the technology that's causing you a problem to help by putting your phone in do not disturb mode or setting your apps to not give you notifications when you're driving.
Or you can use your phone hands free. With voice commands you can have your phone read aloud and send text messages. Do that and your mind will be engaged, but your hands and eyes can still focus on driving.
Texting and driving is not the only dangerous distraction when you're behind the wheel of a car. Other common causes of distracted driving include: eating, interacting with passengers, and adjusting radio or climate controls.
What to do if you're injured by a distracted driver
By not driving distracted yourself, you can have the best chance of avoiding accidents. Of course, even if you do everything perfect yourself, it's still possible that someone else's distracted driving will cause you to get into an accident. If that happens, call the police to the scene and tell the responding officer what you saw.
If you think there's any chance at all that you are injured, you should get medical treatment. Remember that some injuries don't seem so bad at the time of the accident, but they get worse days and weeks later. And in Florida, you have to start medical treatment within two weeks of the accident. So it's best to go to the doctor to be evaluated immediately.
If you are injured in a car accident that was someone else's fault, you should consider hiring an attorney to help you handle your personal injury claim and get fairly compensated. Personal injury attorneys don't cost you any money out of pocket. Instead, they are paid a percentage of the money they recover for you. So they have an incentive to get you as much money as possible.
Be safe out there, and keep your eyes on the road!