Drivers are 23 times more likely to get into an auto accident when texting while driving. Simple messages containing only acronyms can distract a driver long enough to lead to a collision. Text messaging is a convenient mode of communication because of the ability to respond quickly and inconspicuously, such as when in a meeting, at work, or at school. It is the opinion of most that text messaging is the preferred mode of communication of today’s youth. So it is no surprise that when young drivers and cell phones are combined it creates a perfect storm which could lead to serious collisions. Recent studies have shown that traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15-20. Many personal injury cases today can be directly traced to hand held cell phone use.
Recently, a Miami teenager was involved in a car accident when he was texting while driving resulting in the serious injury of one and the death of another. The teen was reported to be driving recklessly, in excess of 60 mph in a 40 mph zone, while texting. Reports labeled the teen as a ‘chronic texter’ citing the fact that he had sent and received 127 text messages that day. The last messages being sent just two minutes before the paramedics were notified. This teenager’s reckless driving coupled with the element of texting resulted in the death of a mother of two as well as serious personal injury to her husband, who was driving. Recently, a judgment of $8.8 million was awarded to the family of the victim.
Unfortunately, this is only one example of this ever growing epidemic. Unfortunately, Florida is one state which has no laws banning texting or cell phone use while driving. Currently, at least six bills have been filed for this legislative season which would place restrictions on electronic distractions while driving. However, history does not fair to well for distracted driving bills in Florida. Just last year Rick Scott vetoed a distracted driving bill which would have required the DMV to provide education on the dangers electronic distracted driving. The number of accidents in Orlando and Florida would be greatly reduced if the Governor would consider restrictions on testing and driving.
Sending text messages while driving diverts the driver’s attention and delays reaction time which leads to auto accidents. Studies have shown that using a cell phone while driving delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a .08 Blood Alcohol Content. When driving, be aware of your surroundings. In cases where injuries are a result of a distracted driver the courts have sent a clear message. Most recently, in the case of the above mentioned Miami teen. Texting and driving, if the result is an accident, constitutes gross negligence making the distracted driver subject to compensatory and punitive damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
Lest we forget, there are other distractions besides cell phones. Eating, smoking and partying while driving can all cause motor vehicle accidents. Be conscious of your surroundings as well as your actions when taking the wheel. There are serious responsibilities that accompany the privilege of driving. When sending a text message or email pull your vehicle over into a safe area and respond before resuming your travels. This will limit any issues of negligence or punitive damage liability when cell phone records are requested or reviewed by any opposing party in a personal injury lawsuit. Remember it could be you who is the injured party in an instance where the driver was distracted due to texting and driving or any related cell phone use. So please do what you can to stop Texting and Driving.