We Asked Florida Drivers to Share Their Experiences

We asked a group of drivers in Florida to share their thoughts on texting and driving. Their answers might surprise you. 

The risks of distracted driving might seem like common knowledge. However, our day-to-day behavior does not necessarily reflect those statistical realities. Steven A. Bagen & Associates, PA surveyed 200 drivers in the state of Florida to find out what the numbers say about cell phone use behind the wheel. 

With this survey, we aimed to gain more insight into how often drivers use a handheld device while driving and how texting and driving may or may not impact their habits on the road.

2023 Distracted Driving Data: Key Findings

1. The majority of participants admitted to talking on the phone while driving at least once a month.
2. The majority of participants said they never text while driving.
3. A fifth of participants said they had been in a “near miss” accident due to texting.

Much of the legislation that targets combating distracted driving focuses on texting. However, using cell phones to make calls can also be a source of distraction for drivers. 

  • Only 20% of our survey respondents said that they had never talked on a cell phone while driving during the past month. 
  • The largest group, at 35%, reported the odd phone call in their cars, to the tune of 1 to 2 times per month. 
  • About a quarter of drivers said they talk on their cell while driving at least once a week.
  • Those that said they have phone calls in the car daily or even every time they get in the car were in the minority, at 13 and 5%, respectively. 

Most Drivers Use a Hands-Free Device for Calls

There still exists a debate about whether using a hands-free device, such as a headset, to make phone calls while driving is safer than the alternative. However, our survey’s results supported the idea that most drivers believe that using a headset is the superior option. 

  • An overwhelming 87% said that they use a hands-free option while using a cell phone in the car. 

This figure doesn’t necessarily explain what, if any other, reasons drivers may have for choosing to use a hands-free device, but we can speculate that it’s likely a combination of safety and convenience. 

How Many Florida Drivers Text and Drive?  

Our survey results reassured us that drivers who text liberally while behind the wheel are in the minority. 

  • About 60% of respondents reported never texting while driving during the past month.
  • Those who claimed to have texted one or more times totaled nearly 40%, which could be a worrying percentage. 
  • Only about 16% of these said their texting frequency was limited to 1 or 2 times per month.
  • Those who engaged in texting while driving once a week or every day totaled around 14 and 10%, respectively. 
  • Only one respondent admitted to texting every time they got in the car. 

Sometimes a Quick Call Can Turn into a “Close Call”

Many drivers, including those who have never been in a car accident, have experienced near misses with avoiding them. You’ve likely heard of or related encounters with other vehicles that were engaging in some kind of reckless behavior, followed by a defensive driving maneuver that allowed both parties to come out unscathed. 

  • About 20% of our survey respondents confirmed that they had been in a “near-miss” accident while they were texting. Keeping in mind that only 40% of the total participants had admitted to texting while driving with some frequency, this means that about half of the texting group had seen close calls due to their cell phone usage. 

Distracted Driving in Florida Causes Almost as Many Accidents as “Near Misses” 

When asked if they had been in an accident due to distracted driving, 15% of respondents said yes. The remaining 85% said no. 

Distracted driving accounts for a large percentage of accident statistics. However, it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone will be involved in a car accident during their lifetime. For those of us who are fortunate enough not to have experienced a crash, it’s a good reminder to recognize that these events are not uncommon. 

It takes mere seconds for a near-accident to become a collision. At higher speeds, this time window reduces significantly. 

We See the Effects of Distracted Driving Across Florida

More than half (53%) of the drivers surveyed said that they know someone who has been injured by an auto accident with a distracted driver. 

While this may seem like a shocking percentage, it’s important to remember that distracted driving is one of the biggest risk factors for auto accidents. Distracted drivers are also involved in many accidents causing injury to non-drivers, such as bicyclists and pedestrians. 

Despite the Risk, Florida Drivers are Still Divided On Texting Laws

About 42% of respondents were in favor of texting and driving regulations, such as Florida Statute 316.305, saying that they believe these laws work. The remaining 58% disagreed. 

While much remains to be seen as far as what, if any, changes will come to Florida’s anti-distracted driving initiatives, it’s clear that public opinion remains mixed regarding the issue. Florida is not alone in imposing penalties for texting while driving; 48 states, three territories, and Washington D.C. have all created laws to make text messaging while operating a motor vehicle illegal. 

The Results Are In: Texting is Still a Danger to Safe Roadways

There is much that the data in this survey can’t tell us. Still, information about Florida’s driving habits can be a valuable tool in assessing our relationship to our driving habits and the mutual respect all roadway users must have for one another. 

We all share an obligation to practice safe driving and protect other motorists, passengers, and pedestrians. In light of the current data and legal statutes, the safest option is to skip the fine and wait to send that text. 

Few people would deny that technology has radically changed our way of life in recent years. Handheld devices occupy a percentage of nearly everyone’s time, and we rely on our cell phones and tablets to work, communicate, and relax. 

While some applications may offer an advantage to drivers — such as using GPS to navigate an unfamiliar city or warn you of upcoming traffic jams — mobile devices can also create significant hazards in the form of distracted driving. Distracted driving can include visual, manual, and cognitive distractions. Using a cell phone while driving can divert your attention with all three of these. 

The Real Cost of Distracted Driving Across Florida 

Government agencies across the United States have attempted to curb the risk posed by distracted driving by implementing laws prohibiting or even penalizing wireless communication while behind the wheel. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 427,000 people were killed or injured in motor vehicle accidents involving a distracted driver in 2019. In that same year, Florida Statute 316.305 came into effect. Florida’s drivers can be stopped and issued a citation by law enforcement for using a mobile device in a handheld manner, such as texting. 

In 2020, this statute was expanded to increase the penalties for distracted driving in designated school and work zones. Drivers can be issued a fine of $30 for a first violation up to $60 and three points assessed against a driver’s license for second-time offenses or school and work zone infractions.  

While these fines might seem trivial, they’re nothing compared to the cost of an accident. Injured victims of car crashes can face hundreds of thousands in property damage and medical bills, not to mention the possibility of losing one’s life. 

About This Survey

This survey includes self-reported data from 202 participants. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 75+ and household incomes between $0-9,999 and $200,000+. The largest age groups surveyed were 30-44 (28.22%) and 45-60 (30.69%.) Female participants represented a slightly higher percentage (57.92%) than males (38.61%), with less than 4% of respondents who were non-binary or declining to answer. The majority (63.37%) use an iOS phone or tablet, while about a third (33.17%) use an Android device.