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Distracted Driving and Its Impact On an Accident Claim

Have you ever glanced away from the road for a split second? Maybe for a quick look at the passing scenery or a glance at your phone? If the answer is yes, you’re guilty of distracted driving. This behavior is increasingly common and it’s also dangerous. 

Florida reported 56,594 distracted driving crashes in 2021. Proving another driver was distracted can be difficult, and this can impact your accident claim. Even though Florida is a no-fault insurance state, sometimes it’s still necessary to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance.

What Is Distracted Driving

Anytime a driver takes their eyes off the road or removes their hands from the steering wheel, it’s considered distracted driving. While cell phones are the most common distraction, especially among teens and drivers in their early 20s, it’s not the only cause. Along with glancing down at a screen for a glance at a text or to see who’s calling, checking on pets and children in the back seat is another common distraction.

Newer model vehicles typically come with infotainment systems designed to help prevent some forms of distracted driving. Using voice commands, you can send a text or dial a phone number. You can even control radio stations and GPS systems with your voice. This way, you don’t have to take your hands off the steering wheel. While onboard technology can help reduce some types of distracted driving, the urge to glance at the console is still difficult to overcome.

Some other driving distractions also include checking out the passing scenery. Engaging in conversation with passengers and reaching for your cup of coffee also takes your attention away from the road.

The Three Types of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is typically broken down into three categories: cognitive, visual, and manual. Each type of distracted driving is equally dangerous and contributes to the number of accidents on Florida highways and streets.

Cognitive Distracted Driving

Cognitive distracted driving occurs when your focus is anywhere but on the road. Your hands may be on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road, but your mind is focusing on something other than your driving.

Your attention can wander for the simplest of reasons. For instance, maybe you’re concentrating on the day’s schedule or worrying about a loved one. Getting lost in a song playing on the radio is a great way to briefly escape, except when you’re driving, and even talking to a passenger can take your mind off the road.

So, why is losing concentration on your driving considered dangerous? Your reaction times are typically slower and this can cause an accident. For example, even if there’s plenty of distance between you and the lead vehicle you may not be able to stop in time. If the lead car applies its brakes, you may not notice it until it’s too late.

Visual Distractions

Florida is well-known for its flat countryside and long, straight highways. Since you’re not focusing on what’s over the next hill or following the bends and curves in the road, it’s easy to start glancing around. The scenery in Florida is often breathtaking. From ocean views to the swamps in the Everglades, there’s almost always something to see that’s more visually appealing than a flat stretch of highway.

However, even glancing away from the road for a second can be disastrous. Animals can dart out into traffic, and lead vehicles can suddenly stop. You may even miss a car merging in front of you. You’re also risking wandering into another traffic lane. Did you know that just glancing away from the road for one second automatically doubles your chances of being involved in a car accident?

Learning to ignore visual distractions isn’t easy. However, learning how to improve concentration can help you stay visually focused on your driving.

Manual Distractions

You may have your eyes on the road but this doesn’t mean you’re not engaging in a form of distracted driving. Taking your hands off the steering wheel is just as dangerous as not paying attention to the road.

Reaching for a coffee cup, a sandwich, or even to fiddle with a knob on the dashboard are all common types of manual distractions.

Why is taking your hands off the steering wheel considered dangerous driving behavior? The answer is pretty simple. You can’t control the vehicle if you’re not using the steering wheel. Did you know you can travel the length of a football in about 1 second, going 60 mph? Just imagine the damage your uncontrolled vehicle can do in 100 yards. You can end up in a ditch, wander into oncoming traffic, or hit another vehicle.

Challenges of Proving Distracted Driving in an Accident Claim

Even though Florida is a no-fault insurance state, car accident victims can still file a claim for damages against the at-fault driver’s insurance. If you’re not sure what a no-fault state is, it means everyone involved in a vehicle collision files a claim with their insurance provider. This applies even when you’re not responsible for the accident.

Your PIP (personal injury protection) insurance covers around 80% of your medical expenses up to your policy’s limit. Florida requires all drivers with vehicles registered in the state to carry at least $10,000 in PIP coverage.

PIP also covers lost wages up to the cap—however, it doesn’t cover non-economic damages like mental anguish, pain, and suffering. Your auto insurance pays for your property damage and repairs. However, PIP often isn’t enough to fully reimburse you for your damages. This is when you turn to the at-fault driver’s insurance to cover your remaining damages.

This is when it becomes difficult to prove fault in a distracted driving claim. You must first prove negligence, and it’s not always easy to show that the other driver’s inattention is the cause of the accident. This is usually when an experienced personal injury attorney comes in. Your attorney can collect evidence to prove negligence.

Let an Attorney Help with Your Distracted Driving Case

Navigating a medical malpractice claim can be incredibly stressful. Instead of getting bogged down by the legal intricacies of your case, consider letting a skilled attorney take over the details. 

By doing this, you free yourself to concentrate on healing while your attorney dedicates their expertise to securing the fair compensation you deserve.

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