Distracted Driving and Texting Accidents
At Hollander Law Firm we understand just how traumatic it can be when someone is injured or killed by a reckless or irresponsible driver. For over two decades, our personal injury law firm - serving the communities of Boca Raton, West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale - has helped injured men and women and their families pursue maximum compensation for their injuries and damages. We understand that distracted drivers are to blame for injuring and killing thousands of people every year, and we are committed to making sure victims and their families get fair compensation when these senseless and preventable accidents occur.Common Causes of Distracted Driving
There is no doubt that distracted driving is a serious problem in Florida and throughout the nation. While distracted driving includes any activity that diverts a motorist’s attention away from the road, some of the most common behaviors include:
- Talking with other passengers
- Programming a navigation system while driving
- Fiddling with the climate controls, radio or entertainment system in a car
- Eating or drinking in the car
- Reaching for or searching through a purse or bag
- Applying makeup
- Adjusting a child’s car seat or seat belt
- Rubbernecking or looking at something outside of the car
- Texting or talking on a cell phone
Far too many drivers believe that they can safely “multitask” while operating a motor vehicle. The reality is that any behavior that takes a driver’s eyes and mind off the road is dangerous and can lead to a deadly accident.New Florida Law Makes Texting While Driving a Primary Offense
While texting behind the wheel used to be a secondary offense in Florida (meaning that the police were required to pull a driver over for another violation, such as speeding, in order to issue a citation for texting while driving), this is no longer the case. Under the new Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law, texting behind the wheel is now a primary offense. The law also applies to sending emails and instant messaging.
Critically the Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law includes a provision that applies specifically to serious and fatal accident cases involving distracted drivers. Under Section 316.305(d), the law states:
“[I]n the event of a crash resulting in death or personal injury, a user’s billing records for a wireless communications device or the testimony of or written statements from appropriate authorities receiving such messages may be admissible as evidence in any proceeding to determine whether a violation of paragraph (a) [the ban on texting while driving] has been committed.”
In other words, under Florida’s new texting law, accident victims and their families have the express right to obtain the other driver’s phone records in order to prove that he or she was texting at the time of the accident. However, as with all other key forms of evidence, it will be necessary to hire an experienced West Palm beach auto accident attorney to enforce your rights under Section 316.305(d) and obtain the other driver’s phone records on your behalf.
If the other driver violated the Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law, does this mean that you have an open-and-shut case? Not necessarily.
Although violating a statute like Florida’s texting ban constitutes negligence per se (meaning that additional evidence of fault is not required), you still need to prove the amount you are entitled to recover. Additionally, to be clear, you must be able to prove that the other driver violated the statute—the fact that he or she was ticketed, or even convicted in traffic court, does not have any direct impact on your case. As a result, even if you are absolutely certain that the driver who hit you was on his or her phone at the time of the crash, it will still be important for you to hire an experienced attorney to handle your insurance claim.Tips, Tools and Resources for Avoiding Distracted Driving
While we are passionate about representing victims of distracted driving advocates, we would greatly prefer that these accidents never occurred. They can (and should) be avoided, and all drivers and parents need to do their part to prevent distractions from leading to unnecessary injuries and deaths. With this in mind, here are some tips from West Palm beach auto accident attorney Gregg Hollander as well as some additional tools and resources for avoiding distracted driving:5 Tips for Avoiding Distracted Driving by a West Palm VBeach Auto Accident Attorney
Tip #1: Respond to Texts and Emails Before You Start Driving
If you have pending text conversations or emails to which you will feel compelled to respond while you are driving, take the time to respond before you get behind the wheel.
Tip #2: Turn Off Notifications While You are Driving
If you have trouble ignoring notifications while you are driving, turn your notifications off. Any messages you receive can wait until you get to your destination, and the people who are waiting to hear back from you will understand.
Tip #3: Put Your Phone Out of Reach
If you find yourself checking for income messages while you are driving, put your phone out of reach. Don’t just put it somewhere where it is difficult to reach, like the glove box, but put it somewhere you can only reach if you put your car in park and get out of the driver’s seat.
Tip #4: Hold Yourself Accountable
Make a pledge to yourself that you will not give in to driving distractions. If you still find yourself getting distracted behind the wheel, hold yourself accountable.
Tip #5: Talk to Your Kids about the Risks of Texting Behind the Wheel
Sadly, a significant percentage of all distracted driving accidents involve teen drivers. As a parent, you owe it to yourself, your child and your community to make sure your teen understands the risks of texting behind the wheel.5 Tools and Resources for Avoiding Distracted Driving
- Put It Down: Focus On Driving
Put It Down: Focus On Driving is the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ (FLHSMV) campaign to fight cell phone use behind the wheel. On the FLHSMV website, you will find more information about the risks of distracted driving and the Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law.
- Ending Distracted Driving is Everyone’s Responsibility
The National Safety Council (NSC) encourages awareness of the risks of distracted driving with its campaign, Ending Distracted Driving is Everyone's Responsibility. The NSC’s website contains a variety of free resources for parents, educators, employers and community leaders, from statistics to recommended technology solutions.
- U Drive. U Text. U Pay.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) promoting awareness with its message, U Drive. U Text. U Pay. The NHTSA’s website includes statistics, videos, infographics and a safe driving pledge.
- CDC Distracted Driving Statistics
“Each day in the United States, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.” This is just one of several sobering statistics published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC’s website also provides information on risk factors, prevention methods and the increasing scope of the distracted driving problem in the United States.
- Useful Apps to Help End Distracted Driving
EndDD.org has published a list of Useful Apps to Help End Distracted Driving. These include Drive Smart, Safe Drive, Ever Drive and True Motion. While we recommend that all Florida residents do whatever they think is necessary to avoid driving while distracted, our West Palm beach auto accident lawyer does not endorse any of these apps directly.
The statistics on distracted driving crashes and texting accidents are startling. If you or someone you love has been hurt or killed by a driver who was texting on a cell phone or engaging in any other type of dangerous behavior, you deserve to receive fair compensation for your losses and injuries. Hollander Law Firm is a well-established personal injury firm committed to helping distracted driving victims throughout South Florida. Contact us today at to speak with an experienced Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach auto accident attorney.