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Distracted driving goes well beyond texting and driving

Much attention has been given these days to the dangers of texting and driving. However, there are a myriad of ways in which a driver can be distracted. For example, some people do not think twice about eating or grooming while behind the wheel. They may be tuning the radio. They may be engrossed in talking to passengers or talking on their cell phones. They may be reading a map or using a navigation system to direct them where to go. However, all of these behaviors can distract a driver, leading to serious or even fatal car accidents.

In fact, distracted driving constitutes any activity that keeps a driver's attention off of the task of driving. Floridians might be surprised to hear that in 2014 over 3,000 people died and approximately 431,000 were injured in auto accidents across the nation involving a distracted driver.

Distracted driving is especially prevalent for young drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10 percent of all teenage drivers involved in fatal accidents were distracted when the accident occurred. In addition, motorists in their 20s constitute 23 percent of all drivers involved in deadly accident, 27 percent of which were driving while distracted and 38 percent of which were using a cell phone while behind the wheel.

Young drivers aside, at any given moment during the daytime, about 660,000 drivers are utilizing a cell phone or manipulating some type of electronic device while behind the wheel. This statistic has remained relatively steady since 2010. Keep in mind, that even taking your eyes off the road for five seconds to text, if you're driving at 55 miles per hour, it is the equivalent of traveling the length of a football field with your eyes closed.

As this shows, distracted driving is a serious issue in Florida and across the nation. It leads to otherwise preventable accidents that injure or kill other individuals. Florida residents who have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver may want to seek the help needed to determine what steps they can take to pursue compensation.

Source: Distraction.gov, "Facts and Statistics," accessed Oct. 24, 2016

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