DISTRACTED DRIVING IS DANGEROUS

Despite the Florida law against texting while driving, about half of all motorists confess to using their cell phones to text or email while driving. While many think that reading or sending a quick text is safe, the fact is that even a quick look away from the road often causes a fatal crash. If you are injured in a traffic crash in south Florida due to another driver being distracted, speak right away to an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury attorney.

Safe driving requires 100 percent of a driver’s attention. If you’re injured in south Florida by a distracted driver, you may be able to recover your medical expenses and other injury-related losses by filing a personal injury claim with the help of an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury attorney. If you’re injured right now, make the call today.

Texting and Driving in Florida

Florida enacted a texting-while-driving ban which took effect in October 2013. All but three states have now banned texting-while-driving, but the law in Florida only partially forbids texting behind the wheel.

The law still allows drivers to check maps, use voice commands, read texts that contain addresses, text and email at stop lights, and talk on cell phones without restriction. Texting and emailing while driving, however, is not allowed, but drivers may only be cited for texting-while-driving as a “secondary” offense. Most Florida drivers are familiar with the idea of “secondary” offenses; until 2009, not wearing a seat belt in Florida was a secondary offense. This means law enforcement officers cannot stop you for solely for texting-while-driving. A driver must violate a primary law – speeding, for example – before that driver can be investigated or charged for texting-while-driving. The fine for texting-while-driving is also fairly insubstantial. For a first offense, the fine is $30 plus court fees; for a second offense, the fine jumps to $60 plus court fees.

Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers believes the law is working despite the small number of tickets issued. Since the law took effect, rather than writing tickets, troopers have been informing and warning drivers who may have been unaware of the current law.

If a driver is involved in an accident while texting, and a fatality or severe injury results, a police officer can legally confiscate the driver’s phone to seek evidence that the driver was texting or emailing at the time of the crash. If the driver was texting or emailing, he or she will probably be found liable for the accident.

Teens and Distracted Driving

A new survey conducted by the AAA finds that many teenage drivers admitted to some form of distraction while driving. The numbers are much higher than federal estimates. For instance, statistics by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hold that approximately 14% of all accidents involving teenage drivers are caused due to distractions are revealed. The actual numbers however, are much higher. For instance, the AAA study finds that distraction is linked to as many as 50% of accidents. The research focused on 1,700 accidents involving teen drivers, and was based on camera footage of drivers in the seconds leading up to the accident.

The kind of distractions also varied. While adults tend to be distracted by the use of electronic devices like cell phones while driving, teenagers have a wide variety of distractions to take their attention away from the wheel. While many of the teens were occupied with their cell phone at the time of the accident, others were talking to fellow passengers, looking at something inside the car, or outside the car, or grooming themselves at the time of an accident.

Taking selfies at the wheel is very popular, and many motorists don’t seem to appreciate the dangers of making duck faces while they are at the wheel. Experts believe that taking selfies while driving impairs a person’s driving ability, just like intoxication does. A Google search for selfies while driving will reveal dozens of accidents that have involved people taking selfies, and crashing into buses, and trees. The risk of rear ending the car in front of you is extremely high when you’re busy posing for the camera. Talk to a Palm Beach car accident lawyer for help filing a claim.

Hands-Free Devices

Hands-free, voice-activated devices, it turns out, are just as distracting to drivers, and therefore just as dangerous, as hand-held devices. Devices that are characterized as making driving safer can actually make it more dangerous. If you’re injured in south Florida by a driver who was distracted by an electronic device while driving, you may be able to obtain compensation for your medical costs, lost income, and related expenses, but you’ll need to speak first – and quickly – with an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury attorney.

Hands-free devices are designed so that drivers may keep their hands on the steering wheel, but a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety confirms that drivers are adversely distracted by voice-activated systems and devices. The study confirmed that drivers’ reaction times are slower when they are thinking about something other than safely operating their vehicles.

If you’re injured by a distracted driver in south Florida, it’s imperative to contact a good West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer immediately. When you hesitate to get legal help, evidence can evaporate and witnesses can become forgetful. A good personal injury lawyer will assess the details and evidence and suggest your best legal option. When you file a personal injury claim in south Florida, a West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer can fight aggressively for your rights and for the maximum compensation you need and deserve for your injuries.

Drowsy Driving

Another type of distracted driving is getting behind the wheel while fighting fatigue. Compared to even the 1990s, Americans regularly get less sleep and drive longer daily commutes. That means the driver next to you may be drowsy or even sleeping, as drowsy driving has become a leading cause of traffic accidents. Medical conditions like sleep apnea also increase your risk of becoming a victim in a drowsiness-related collision. If you’re injured in a south Florida traffic crash and you have a reason to believe the other driver was drowsy at the wheel, speak at once to an experienced Palm Beach personal injury attorney.

A new study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that four percent of American drivers report regularly driving while drowsy. That’s one in every twenty-five drivers. The CDC’s study found that these groups are the most likely to drive drowsy:

  • Male drivers under 25
  • Alcohol abusers
  • Drivers who do not wear seat belts.
  • Drivers with sleep disorders.
  • Drivers who regularly get less than five hours of sleep

A fatigued driver has a slower reaction time, reduced vision, and more difficulty processing incoming information. According to the National Sleep Foundation, drowsy drivers are also more prone to engage in the aggressive driving behaviors that cause accidents. A good personal injury lawyer can help accident victims obtain the compensation they need and the justice they deserve.

HURRICANE SEASON

We’re almost at the end of another humid Florida summer, and that means hurricane season. It’s a time to think about picking up emergency supplies and making sure everyone in the family is safe. While insurance companies refer to hurricane injuries as “acts of God,” hurricanes – and the tropical storms we see more frequently – also create opportunities for injuries caused by the negligent actions of other people.

If a big storm does come our way in south Florida, a number of developments have created some vulnerabilities and concerns. The first concern is inexperience. After almost a decade without hurricanes, the population here has radically changed; it’s estimated that probably a million people currently in south Florida have never experienced a hurricane. Until recently, everyone in Florida knew exactly what to do as a hurricane approached for one simple reason: it was the same thing they did last year, and the same thing they did every year before that, with very few exceptions. Even long-time residents can grow complacent after this many years. It’s one of the risks of living in paradise. But it’s only a matter of time until a hurricane again strikes south Florida, and smart Floridians – especially if they have children – always make basic advance preparations.

If you’re injured in south Florida because of someone else’s negligence, speak immediately with an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury attorney. When another person’s negligence is the cause of your injury, you have the right to be reimbursed for your medical treatment and related expenses. Below, some hurricane safety and preparedness tips:

  • Seal important documents (such as passports, insurance policies, tax papers, and wills) in plastic bags or in a waterproof box.
  • Have flashlight batteries, garbage bags, and kerosene lanterns available. Avoid candles due to the fire hazard.
  • Have an old-fashioned manual can opener, and consider buying a camp stove for cooking without electricity.
  • Make sure your home’s first-aid kit is comprehensive.
  • If you have a baby, have plenty of of disposable diapers, formula, and needed medicines.
  • Keep nearby trees trimmed so that branches don’t become missiles.

If forecasters predict that a hurricane or tropical storm is imminent, fill your gas tank and get cash from your ATM. Gas pumps and ATMs may not work for days after a big storm. Turn your refrigerator to its coldest setting. Fill the bathtub and plan to be without water; emergency planners say you should store one gallon of drinking water per person, per day, and plan to be without water for up to a week. Make sure there is enough food and water for pets too. Tie down anything that can’t be brought inside.

The highways are packed in the hours before a big storm hits, and this increases your chance of being injured by another driver’s negligence. Supermarkets and home improvement stores are also packed, with plenty of opportunities to be injured by panicked shoppers, accumulated rainwater, and hastily-displayed merchandise. In a south Florida hurricane or tropical storm, if you’re injured because another person has been negligent, discuss your case immediately with an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury attorney.