Distracted Driving Costs Lives – And It’s Worse Than We Thought

Distracted driving leading to South Florida car accidents has long been a serious problem, especially since smartphones have become so ubiquitous. But while government data puts the number of distracted drivers at roughly 660,000 a day, a recent analysis by Zendrive says it’s 100 times worse. The revelation isn’t exactly stunning to our West Palm Beach car accident attorneys, but it’s nonetheless concerning.West Palm Beach Car Accident Attorney

In a study of 2 million drivers traversing some 4.5 billion miles of road over the course of the three months, Zendrive (a motorist behavior analytics firm) concluded that:

  • 60 percent of drivers use their phone at least once daily while operating a vehicle.
  • 40 percent of drivers do so every hour.
  • 69 million drivers use their phones every day.

What’s more the number of drivers distracted by smartphones has increased 10 percent in the last year. Most drivers – nearly 9 in 10 – agree distracted driving is a serious issue, but only half admit to engaging in this behavior. In fact, 90 percent consider themselves safe drivers. Analysts determined those considered “heavy phone users” – those who spend three times more than the average – engaged in phone use while driving – spent nearly one-third of their time ignoring the road.

Worse, these individuals were found to be on the road twice as much as the general population. It doesn’t surprise our West Palm Beach car accident attorneys to learn these individuals were even more dangerous than drunk drivers. Top distractions among these individuals included:

  • Texting
  • Talking
  • Navigating
  • Choosing music

In many cases, individuals who are “phone addicts” don’t realize how dangerous their actions truly are.

The only state out of 50 where researchers did not note a significant uptick in phone use was Vermont. Among all the others, the length of time one spends on a phone behind the wheel increased as well as the number of drivers engaged in these behaviors.

Peak distracted driving hours were between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., researchers reported. Although the average number of drivers who use their phone at least once in a single hour is 40 percent overall, among those who engage in this, the number is 72 percent between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The average amount of time one spends distracted in an hour is 3.5 minutes. At 55 mph, that is akin to driving “blind” for the length of 42 football fields.

Florida distracted driving also spikes significantly on nights, weekends and over certain holidays – similar to drunk driving. For example, on holidays like Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and Super Bowl Sunday, distracted driving rose 15 percent overall.

In ranking states with the most distracted drivers, Florida placed 14th. The only surprise there is that it isn’t higher. Oregon, Washington, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming placed in the top five. Drilling down further into the most-distracted cities, Miami ranked No. 21. Seattle ranked No. 1.

Zendrive recommends – first and foremost – that people put down their phones while driving. However, seeing as how so many still are missing the message, it recommends insurers offer rewards/incentives for those who drive phone-free. Lawmakers too are encouraged to take a harder line on distracted driving enforcement and penalties.

In Florida, state lawmakers had been considering new bills that would make texting-while-driving a primary offense (meaning officers could stop a driver solely for that reason). Although it seemed poised for the governor’s desk this session, the state senate and house failed to agree on a few key points, and the senate has tabled the discussion for the time-being.

Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.

Additional Resources:

100 times worse than we thought: Insights from a Zendrive’s 2018 Distracted Driving Snapshot, April 10, 2019, Zendrive

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South Florida Crash Risk Higher With Ride Shares like Uber, Lyft?, April 15, 2019, West Palm Beach Car Accident Lawyer Blog