Distracted driving has become a pervasive problem for Florida drivers. As apps, devices, and in-vehicle entertainment systems become increasingly common, the temptation to drive while distracted is higher than ever. This is especially true for younger drivers, given their greater innate propensity to display less caution on the road, combined with their insatiable desire to always stay connected and engaged via the latest technologies.
When a distracted driver causes a crash resulting in injury, a West Palm Beach car accident attorney can help explain your legal rights and explore all possible avenues of compensation.
The Deadly Pokémon GO Phenomenon
One of the most popular apps in recent years, Pokémon GO became a national sensation very soon after it was introduced. The virtual reality game allowed players to use their mobile devices in order to catch digital creatures in the world around them. Unfortunately, this gaming format had the unintended consequence of distracting players from the world around them. Drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians all neglected the road in front of them in favor of the game. A paper published by the Social Science Research Network examined the phenomenon in detail. In the 148 days following the introduction of the game, the researchers found that an estimated two deaths occurred just in Tippecanoe County, Indiana as a direct result of the game. An estimated $5.2 million to $25.5 million worth of damage and loss in that county during the same time period was also attributable to drivers playing the game when they should have been paying attention to the road. Extrapolating these numbers to national data, the study estimated that nationwide losses would range from $2 billion to $7.3 billion in the 148 days following the game’s release.
Distracted Driving Comes to Florida
Distracted driving is a local problem, as well. The Sun-Sentinel reports that Florida is the second-worst state in the nation for distracted driving. In a study conducted by EverQuote insurance, only Louisiana drivers scored higher rates of distracted driving. The study also estimated that 92 percent of all drivers nationwide have used a mobile phone while in a moving vehicle within the past 30 days.
Unfortunately, a procedural detail in the law makes it difficult for Florida law enforcement officers to enforce the texting while driving ban codified at Florida Statutes §316.305(3)(a). Texting while driving is a secondary offense, which means that officers can only pull over a texting driver if they observe a different traffic offense first. Unless a distracted driver is also speeding, swerving, running a red light, or committing another observable traffic offense, an officer will not be able to cite them for texting while driving. Distracted driving can cause drivers to commit other such offenses. Unfortunately, until the law is changed to make texting while driving a primary offense, officers will be unable to directly target the problem.
This does not, of course, mean that distracted drivers cannot be held accountable for their dangerous conduct. All drivers have a legal obligation to drive with due care in all situations. When an accident occurs, it is important for an injury victim to enforce their legal right to compensation. This provides distracted drivers with financial consequences for their negligence. With the legal advice of a West Palm Beach car accident attorney, injury victims will be better able to access the compensation to which they are entitled by law.