Tag Archives: Distracted Driving

DEATH BY DISTRACTION: 214 People Died In 2015 From Distracted Driving Crashes In Florida

More than 39,000 people were injured in Florida wrecks last year caused by distracted driving, including 214 who died.

According to AdCouncil.org, more than nine in 10 Americans believe sending and reading texts while driving is dangerous.  There have been many efforts to educate and convey the potential consequences of texting and driving using scare tactics or preachy messaging. And, while research shows that people are convinced that the behavior is dangerous, they are still doing it.

Data recently released by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reveal 45,740 accidents in 2015 were caused by distracted driving, resulting in 39,396 injuries. To curb such statistics, the state Legislature passed the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law” in 2015.

Miami-Dade ranked second in Florida for distracted driving crashes with 4,445 and topped the state with 16 fatalities in those accidents. Orange County topped the state in crashes (5,506) and injuries (5,040). Thirteen deaths in Orange were the result of distracted driving.

Hillsborough County (3,896) and Broward County (3,762) were third and fourth, respectively, in the number of wrecks from distracted driving. Here are the statistics for counties with ROIG Lawyers offices:

County                 Crashes          Injuries            Deaths

Hillsborough       3,896                  3,496                   11

Broward               3,762                  2,967                   8

Palm Beach          2,194                  1,656                   7

Leon                      791                      600                      0

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Beyond Texting: Distracted Driving Includes Selfies, PDA & Grooming

Although texting while driving remains a top driving distraction, a recent survey from Erie Insurance found that there are a variety of activities happening behind the wheel that could lead to impending accidents. The online survey of 1,915 U.S. drivers aged 18 and older was conducted in February by Harris Poll on behalf of the insurance provider.

“A distraction is anything that causes a driver to take their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel, or their mind off their primary task of driving safely,” said Doug Smith, senior vice president of personal lines at Erie Insurance. “Our survey found drivers unfortunately are engaging in a wide range of distracting and potentially dangerous behaviors.”

Erie Insurance said that besides overt phone distractions like texting and talking while driving, survey responders also admitted to: public displays of affection, personal grooming, taking selfies, putting in contact lenses or eye drops, curling eyelashes, scratching off lottery tickets, and even playing the guitar.

Based on the survey, here are distracted driving behaviors and the percentage of drivers who revealed they engaged in the activity:

  • Romantic encounter/PDA: 15%
  • Combing/styling hair: 15%
  • Changing clothes: 9%
  • Putting on make-up: 8%
  • Brushing/flossing teeth: 4%
  • Taking selfies: 4%
  • Changing drivers: 3%
  • Going to the bathroom: 3%

The survey also confirmed that texting while driving remains a serious problem with about 30 percent of drivers reporting that they, themselves, have texted while driving, and almost 75 percent saying that they have seen other drivers do it.In addition, the survey uncovered regional differences as well as distinctions between gender and age. According to the results, drivers in the Northeast text the least, men are more likely to text than women, and younger drivers text more.

Texting while Driving by Region:

  • Midwest: 28%
  • South: 35%
  • West: 30%
  • Northeast: 24%

Texting while Driving by Gender:

  • Female: 28%
  • Male: 32%

Texting while Driving by Age:

  • 18-34: 51%
  • 35-44: 39%
  • 45-54: 33%
  • 55-64: 14%
  • 65 and older: 7%

According to U.S. government statistics, in 2012, more than 420,000 people were injured in car crashes involving distracted driving and more than 3,300 people were killed. In 2013, Erie Insurance analyzed police data and found that daydreaming was the most fatal distracted driving behavior behind the wheel.

Erie Insurance released its findings in conjunction with National Distracted Driving Awareness month in April to bring attention to distracted driving behaviors and their dangerous threat to roadway safety.

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Dangerous Driving Habits Revealed in AAA Study

Even though most drivers support safe driving habits, many do not put them into practice, a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found. The Foundation’s research points to a “culture of indifference” among drivers who place a high value on safe travel, but also admit to engaging in behaviors they consider unsafe, such as speeding and impaired driving.

The 2014 Traffic Safety Culture Index reports the results of a study in which drivers were surveyed about their drinking and driving habits, texting and cell phone usage, speeding and driving through red lights, and drowsy driving. The following is an overview of the results.

Drinking, Drugs and Driving

The message about the dangers of drinking and driving has been sinking in, as 66 percent of those drivers surveyed view the practice as a very serious threat to personal safety. In addition:

  • 97% consider it unacceptable to drive when someone has had too much to drink
  • 80% believe that anyone convicted of driving while intoxicated more than once should have an alcohol interlock ignition device to prevent them from starting the car if they have been drinking
  • 73% think alcohol interlock ignition devices should be installed in all new cars
  • 63% favored lowering the blood alcohol level from .08 to .05 g/dl

Even so, one in eight drivers still reported driving in the past 12 months while their blood alcohol level might have been at or over the legal limit, and 19 percent said they did so in the past month.

As far as drug use, almost half of those surveyed believe it is a much larger problem than it was three years ago.

  • 56% view using illegal drugs as a serious threat
  • 28% see prescription drug use an issue
  • Over 90% agreed that it was unacceptable for a driver to “drive one hour after using marijuana”
  • 85% supported laws that would make it “illegal to drive with a certain amount of marijuana in one’s system”

Texting and Cell Phone Usage

When it comes to cell phone use, drivers rate certain behaviors more risky than others. The study found:

  • 69% reported talking on a cell phone while driving in the past 30 days
  • 33% said they “talk on their cell phone while driving fairly often or regularly”
  • Over 50% say the habit is dangerous
  • 66% say the habit is unacceptable

However, 65% of drivers consider it acceptable to use hands-free phones, while only 33% view it as unacceptable.

In terms of texting, 78% of drivers believe that texting and emailing while driving are dangerous.

  • 89% of drivers support laws against texting, typing and emailing while driving
  • 68% strongly support such a law

However:

  • 36% admit to reading a text message or email while driving in the last 30 days
  • 9% admit that they do it fairly regularly
  • 27% like to multi-task and admit to driving and typing a text or email at the same time over the past 30 days
  • Less than 50% support the federal government regulating “non-driving-related in-vehicle technologies” for being considered a distraction.

Age definitely has an impact on how distracted driving is perceived. Drivers over the age of 60 are the least likely to engage in these types of activities, while drivers aged 25-39 are most likely to talk on the phone, text and email, and view these activities as acceptable. Younger drivers, ages 16-18, also believe it’s acceptable to text, email and use the internet while driving.

Speeding, Red Lights and Drowsy Driving

A behind-the-wheel feeling of apathy toward speeding, running red lights and drowsy driving is also apparent in drivers, according to results from the study.

While 76% consider it unacceptable to drive more than 15 mph over the speed limit and 30% view speeding on the highway as a serious threat to their safety, 46% said they have driven 15 mph or more over the speed limit in the past 30 days and 14% said they do it fairly regularly. In addition, 95% consider driving 10 mph over the speed limit in a school zone unacceptable, but only 44% view speeding on residential streets as a very serious threat.

In terms of how drivers handle red lights, 94% consider it unacceptable to drive through a red light in cases where they could have stopped, but 33% admit to running a red in the past 30 days and 2% do it regularly.

As far as driving while sleep deprived, 96% consider it unacceptable to drive when they are so tired that they have trouble keeping their eyes open, but 29% reported that they had driven while struggling to stay awake in the past 30 days, 20% said they had done this more than once, and 2% do it on a regular basis.

Click on the link to read more about the AAA 2014 Traffic Safety Culture Index.

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State Farm Survey Finds Drivers Admit to Cell Phone Use Behind-the-Wheel

Although most drivers support laws that prohibit cell phone use while driving, they don’t necessarily practice what they preach. That’s what State Farm Insurance Company found when they surveyed drivers about their cell phone habits behind the wheel.

According to the Sixth Annual State Farm Distracted Driving Survey—which dug deeper into consumers’ cell phone usage in vehicles—situations arose where drivers were “more likely” and “less likely” to use their cell phones. Among respondents who admitted to using their cell phones while driving, State Farm found:

Drivers are more likely to use their cell phone when they are:

  • Stopped at a red light – 63 percent
  • On an open highway – 30 percent

Drivers are less likely to use their cell phone under these conditions:

  • Dark outside – 75 percent
  • Fog – 91 percent
  • Snow – 92 percent
  • Icy – 93 percent
  • Heavy traffic – 78 percent
  • Construction zone – 87 percent
  • Rain – 88 percent
  • School zone – 83 percent

Even though most drivers say they avoid using their cell phones while in school and construction zones, the survey found that at least 10 percent reported those zones have no impact on their cell phone use while driving.

In the six years that State Farm has been conducting these surveys, trends have emerged:

  • There has been a steady reduction in the number of drivers talking on hand-held cell phones.
  • The number of people who report texting while driving has remained stable over six years.
  • Smartphone ownership is growing. By 2014, drivers who reported owning a smartphone grew to 80 percent. The greatest increases are among adults age 40 and older.
  • Smartphones create new distractions. There is a significant increase over six years in drivers using their phones for: accessing the Internet, reading email, responding to email, programming and listening to a navigation system and reading social media.
  • Drivers are more likely to talk on a hand-held phone than they are to text message while driving. Both activities are the greatest among drivers ages 18-29. They decreased as the age of drivers increased.
  • There has been an increase in the percentage of drivers who say they talk on hands-free cell phones while driving. This can possibly be attributed to advances in technology and laws restricting hand-held use.

“These six-year trends make it apparent that smartphones have created many new distractions for drivers to juggle,” Chris Mullen, Director of Technology Research at State Farm said. “While much attention is paid to the dangers of talking and texting while driving, it’s critical that we also address the increasing use of other smartphone features and other sources of distraction.”

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Wake Up Call: Drowsy Driving Plays Significant Role in Fatal Crashes

As daytime hours shorten and evening commutes darken due to the end of daylight saving time, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is pointing out that the prevalence of driver fatigue plays a bigger role in fatal crashes than previously thought.

According to new research, more than 21 percent—or one-in-five—fatal crashes involve drowsy driving. These findings, which show a greater occurrence than official National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics, bear out what experts have long suspected.

The report also found that one-third of crashes involving a drowsy driver resulted in injuries. Even more serious, is that each year more than 6,000 fatigue-related crashes result in at least one fatality, the research revealed.

Prior research from the AAA Foundation uncovered that young adult drivers, ages 19-24, are the most serious offenders with 33 percent admitting to driving while drowsy in the last month. In contrast, the oldest (ages 75+) and the youngest (ages 16-18) drivers were the least likely to report the same offense.

“Despite the fact that 95 percent of Americans deem it ‘unacceptable’ to drive when they are so tired that they have a hard time keeping their eyes open, more than 28 percent admit to doing so in the last month,” said Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Like other impairments, driving while drowsy is not without risk,” he warned.

AAA is urging drivers to recognize warning signs of driver fatigue and take action to avoid tragedy during normal driving, and through the upcoming holiday season.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s Prevalence of Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Drowsy Drivers report is based on the analysis of a representative sample of 14,268 crashes that occurred in years 2009–2013 in which at least one vehicle was towed from the scene.

AAA is highlighting the risks of drowsy driving in support of the National Sleep Foundation’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week®, which runs November 2-9. For more information, visit their website at www.DrowsyDriving.org.

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Motorists Worry More about Other Drivers’ Distractions, Says Survey

Fingers point to the “other driver” as a safety risk due to texting and cell phone usage, according to the recently released 2014 Travelers Consumer Risk Index.

While 51 percent of respondents do acknowledge a potential risk in their own distracted driving habits, 89 percent worry about distractions exhibited by other drivers while they are on the road.

Distracted driving habits among drivers in the respondent’s household aged 16 to 21 were viewed as a cause for concern by only 21 percent of survey participants.

Coincidentally, Travelers notes that parents are responsible for 50 percent of cell phone calls involving a teen driver. In fact, the survey states that almost all parents surveyed (90 percent) admit to also engaging in at least one technical distraction themselves while driving.

As we reported in an August post titled “Texting Laws Appear to Reduce Traffic Fatalities,” 31 percent of U.S. drivers, aged 18-64 years, said that they had read or sent text or email messages while driving at least once in the 30 days prior based on 2011 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That year saw 3,331 fatalities and 387,000 injuries involving distracted drivers.

Texting while driving results in a 23x increased likelihood of being involved in an accident, according to the survey.

Click on the link to read more about the 2014 Travelers Consumer Risk Index.

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Texting Laws Appear to Reduce Traffic Fatalities

States with primary enforcement laws against texting while driving appear to be having an impact on reducing traffic deaths, a new study released by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) – School of Public Health has found.

Primary enforcement means that there doesn’t have to be another reason for a police officer to stop a vehicle.

A recent Claims Journal article summarized some of the UAB findings, one of the most notable being a three percent decrease in fatalities among all age groups associated with states supporting primary texting bans. This translates to an average of 19 deaths prevented per year in states with such bans.

However, researchers revealed that states with secondary enforcement of texting bans (an officer must have another reason to stop a vehicle) didn’t see any real decrease in fatalities. Researchers also found bans on texting are most effective with young drivers, while bans on handheld cell phones are most effective with older adult drivers.

According to 2011 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31 percent of U.S. drivers, aged 18-64 years, said that they had read or sent text or email messages while driving at least once in the 30 days prior. That year saw 3,331 fatalities and 387,000 injuries involving distracted drivers.

Using roadway fatality data captured in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System between 2000 and 2010, Alva O. Ferdinand, Dr.P.H., J.D., led the longitudinal panel study. She wanted to examine what impact texting laws have had on roadway crash-related fatalities and how variations in states’ laws affect those results to ultimately determine which laws are most beneficial in improving roadway safety.

Researchers’ results indicated that states with primary texting bans:

  • Were “significantly associated” with reduced traffic fatalities in all age groups
  • In all age groups, a 3 percent reduction in traffic deaths equates to 19 deaths prevented each year
  • Reduced fatalities 11 percent among 15- to 21-year olds when targeted to young drivers.

States with secondary enforced restrictions also saw no significant reduction in traffic fatalities. In addition, states that prohibit use of cell phones without hands-free technology saw significant reductions in fatalities among the 21- to 64-year old age group.

Ferdinand hopes the findings help policymakers implement laws that are most effective in reducing traffic deaths. Her results are published in the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

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Calling all Drivers: Eyes on the Road

Cell phone use while driving increases the risk of a crash by a factor of four, according to a new report in this week’s edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, titled “Distracted Driving and Risk of Road Crashes among Novice and Experienced Drivers.”

Last week we reported that Florida drivers are the most careless in the country, in our post titled “Florida Ranks #6 in Worst Drivers Nationally.”

Careless driving can be caused by distractions like cell phones and texting. New drivers are particularly susceptible to inappropriate multi-tasking on the road, based on the results of data compiled by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development.

Researchers documented that young drivers 15 to 20 years of age represent 6.4% of all drivers, but are responsible for a disproportionate 10.0% of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities and 14.0% of injury accidents reported to police.

Young drivers are more at risk of a crash or near-crash according to the study, particularly when they engage in the following activities while driving:

  • Dialing a cell phone
  • Reaching for a cell phone
  • Sending or receiving text messages
  • Reaching for an object inside the car
  • Watching an object on the side of the road
  • Eating

Older drivers were also found to be at increased risk of accidents when distracted by cell phone usage.

Data used in the study dates back to the time periods 2003 to 2004, and 2006 to 2008, indicating a likelihood that the number of distracted drivers has grown over the years with the proliferation of smart phones and other mobile devices.

The old adage “eyes on the road” remains good advice for today’s increasingly distracted drivers.

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