Distracted Driving Continues to Increase Fatalities
As cars change due to advancements in technology, the experience of driving has also evolved. Today, there are many items constantly competing for a driver’s attention, not to mention the increasing number on the vehicles of road directly related to higher population counts. Before the advent of mobile technology people created their own methods of breaking their driving concentration by doing things that regularly caused car accidents, such as eating, adjusting the radio, and applying makeup. Now, in addition to these diversions, drivers contend with responding to texts, emails, phone calls, and social media, which results in the driver taking his/her eyes and attention from the road. These distractions are problematic because studies have shown the number of car accident fatalities rose in proportion to increased cell phone use. Specifically, a report released earlier this year linked distracted driving with nine percent of all car accident fatalities. In fact, Florida’s highways are considered among the most deadly, and Florida drivers also seem to use their cell phones more frequently. Engaging in behavior that takes one’s focus off the responsibility of driving is strong evidence the driver is negligent, and if an accident occurs, the driver could be liable for injuries sustained. Florida law bans these activities because of the danger they pose, and tickets issued to a driver for violating these provisions can be used against the driver in court.
Laws to Combat Distracted Driving
Conscientious driving requires the operator to use both his/her eyes and ears to detect possible hazards so the driver has enough advance warning to avoid them. Consequently, Florida law prohibits the use of headphones or ear buds while driving. However, knowing that drivers frequently use ear pieces take phone calls and to encourage hands-free cell phone use, there is an exception if the listening device is placed in just one ear leaving the other to hear surrounding noise.
The main behavior the state is trying to curb is texting while driving. To that end, it is a violation to send communications via a cell phone that require the driver the manually enter information into the device. Sending emails and reading communications is also included within the meaning of the law. Note that this law only applies if the vehicle is moving, so cars at a standstill are excluded. A number of exceptions apply to the ban on typing/reading while driving, including:
- reporting an emergency or criminal activity to law enforcement;
- using a device for navigation; and
- receiving messages related to the operation or navigation of the vehicle.
Importantly, if someone is injured in a crash, cell phone records revealing the driver’s use of the device during the time of accident is admissible as evidence in court.
Proving Negligence in a Car Accident
Negligence is the legal theory must often used in car accident cases, and requires the plaintiff to prove four elements in order to hold the defendant liable. First, the defendant must owe the plaintiff a legal duty of care. With driving, all drivers have the obligation to operate their vehicles in a safe and reasonable manner. Second, the defendant must breach this duty. If the defendant drove in a dangerous or unreasonable way, this duty is breached. Third, the defendant’s breach of the duty of care must cause the plaintiff’s injury. In other words, the defendant’s irresponsible behavior must directly cause the plaintiff’s injury. And fourth, the plaintiff must prove he/she suffered an injury.
Talk to a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer
Car accidents can leave the victims with serious and permanent injuries. If you suffered an injury in a car accident, do not assume you cannot recover compensation. Meeting with a personal injury lawyer will allow you to hear your legal options, and have a legal professional assess the strength of your case. The lawyers at the Miami law firm of Pita Weber Del Prado will fight to hold the responsible party accountable. Contact us for a free consultation.