April is the fourth National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. As crash statistics from the past years indicate, there is still a need for distracted driving awareness in Florida and nationwide. According to the National Safety Council, 1.6 million crashes (28 percent of all annual accidents) are caused by drivers using cell phones—including handheld phones and hands-free devices.

Additional distracted driving statistics reveal just how serious the problem is. Approximately 421,000 people were injured and 3,328 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2012, according to the latest federal data. From these statistics alone, we can see just how dangerous distracted driving is on our nation’s roadways.

In an effort to crack down on distracted drivers, the Florida Highway Safety office is reminding drivers to “Put it Down.” With Florida being one of the last states in our nation to adopt a texting ban, drivers in our state especially need to be reminded not to text and drive. When drivers read or send text messages, their heads drop down and their eyes are taken off the road instead of focusing their attention on driving. For this reason, all drivers are being asked to:

  • Avoid using cell phones while driving
  • Understand that hands-free devices are just as dangerous and are not safe to use while driving
  • Recognize that when your mind is on another task that you are distracted
  • Share with others the dangers of distracted driving and texting while driving

Using a cell phone behind the wheel is just not worth it. Nothing can be so important to risk your life and put others in danger. Research has shown that even the act of talking on a cell phone while driving—even hands-free—can cause you to drive like you were impaired. If you don’t think anything will happen to you and that you can handle both driving and texting or talking on the phone, it may just be a matter of time. The harsh truth is that about 80 percent of car crashes involve some sort of driver distraction, and texting or talking on a cell phone is the number one cause of driver distraction.

The simple truth is that anything that takes a driver’s eyes and mind off the road is considered distracted driving. Because distracted driving is responsible for killing thousands of people every year, we all need to do a better job of putting down our phones when we get behind the wheel, staying focused on the road ahead, and never texting and driving.

As personal injury attorneys who have handled cases for distracted driving victims and have seen the catastrophic results, we encourage you to share this article on Facebook or Twitter with your friends and family so others will think twice before participating in distracted driving.

Damian Mallard, Esq.
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Board Certified Sarasota Personal Injury Attorney