Anyone who lives or even visits South Florida knows the roads can be perilous. Now, one of the most comprehensive studies on driver distraction reveals there is another reason to be concerned.
Zendrive, a new traffic analytics firm, delved into anonymous driver data spanning billions of miles traveled and millions of trips over a recent three-month span. They looked at driving habits from coast-to-coast. They knew almost everyone had a phone. They knew driving while distracted was dangerous. What stunned them was just how often drivers were on their phones.
In almost 9 out of every 10 trips analyzed, drivers were using their phones. Some were talking. Some were texting. Some were uploading social media memes. Some were checking their emails. They all had one thing in common: They were supposed to be focused on the road.
Zendrive tallied some 5.6 million vehicle rides in its sample wherein drivers were using their smartphones while the vehicle was in motion. When they drilled down further into those figures, extrapolating them to weigh the total U.S. population, they calculated that approximately 600 million trips every single day in this country are made by a driver distracted by their phone.
To put that into perspective, the U.S. Census Bureau reports there are 321 million Americans in this country (as of 2015). That means pretty much everyone is driving distracted every day. At least twice. Or more realistically, it means most people who drive (and who probably take several trips daily) are distracted by their phone on almost every trip. The Federal Highway Administration estimates there are more than 210 million licensed drivers in the U.S. (Keep in mind, not every driver on the road is properly licensed.)
Looking at this from a local angle, we consider that Miami is ranked the No. 3 city in the nation for distracted driving, by Zendrive's measurements. Florida as a whole ranked No. 2 in terms of the most distracted state.
Florida was one of the last states in the country to enact a texting-while-driving ban, F.S. 316.305. Still, it has its critics, most of whom argue the law doesn't have any teeth because it does not designate distracted driving as a primary offense. In other words, police are not able to initiate a traffic stop solely on the basis of observing a violation of this statute. A law enforcement officer must first observe a violation of another infraction, and only then can they issue a citation for texting while driving.
Study authors at Zendrive found that in a typical hour-long drive, the majority of motorists spent 3.5 minutes on their phones. This is startling when you consider that if you're traveling at 55 mph, you pass the equivalent of two basketball courts. Just peeling your eyes away for two seconds will up your risk of a crash by 20-fold. Put a different way, in a single hour, most drivers have a heightened risk of killing themselves more than 100 times.
When you use a phone while driving, it doesn't simply mean you aren't looking at the road. It means you aren't thinking about the road. This puts you - and everyone else - in jeopardy.
Our car accident attorneys in West Palm Beach are dedicated to fighting for the rights of distracted driving accident victims in South Florida.