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Who's Texting While Behind the Wheel and Why?

Just about all Americans say that they know that texting while driving a vehicle is unsafe. However, nearly half admit that they have done it. While cellphone use, whether to talk, text or email, is not the only cause of distracted driving, it's a big one. According to the National Safety Council, cellphone use is behind about a quarter of all vehicle accidents.

Young people who don't know a time without cellphones are most likely to use one while driving. Forty percent of teens report that they've ridden in a car where the driver's cellphone use put them in danger. Those in the 21-to-24 age group were found to do the most texting and emailing while behind the wheel. However, a third of American drivers between 18 and 64 have admitted to either sending or reading texts while they were driving.

Many Florida residents believe that they can safely drive and text, and that their eyes really never leave the road. On average, however, a driver spends five seconds with his or her eyes not watching the road while sending a text. That's three seconds longer than drivers can safely look away. As all of us know, a lot can happen on the road in just a few seconds.

While texting while driving is against the law in Florida, as it is in most states, it's what's known as a secondary law. That means that police officers cannot pull someone over simply for texting. They must be believed to be committing some other violation.

However, regardless of the law, the statistics should persuade anyone from using a cellphone or engaging in any type of activity, including eating, that takes their focus off the road. Nine Americans are killed daily in accidents that involve distracted driving. In 2013, over 340,000 accidents involved texting.

Florida drivers have the ability to control our own actions while behind the wheel and to refuse to ride with others who engage in dangerous driving practices like texting. However, we cannot control the actions of those around us on the road. Those involved in an accident where the other driver was at fault have every right to find out if that driver was using a cellphone just before or at the time of the crash. That could impact your legal options if you seek needed compensation as you recover from the accident.

Source: Huffington Post, "10 Statistics That Capture The Dangers of Texting and Driving," Erin Schumaker, June 08, 2015

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