Distracted driving is a growing concern in the United States, claiming thousands of lives and causing countless accidents every year. The data will attest to this prominent problem in Florida. In a recent 2023 survey of 200 Florida drivers, over half responded that they knew someone involved in a distracted driving accident.

In a recent year, the state reported over 4,000 texting-while-driving citations. With the prevalence of these behaviors, distracted driving unsurprisingly contributes to tens of thousands of accidents every year in Florida alone.

The state has imposed harsher penalties and legislation to stop distracted driving accidents; however, many speculate that these measures fail to meet the challenge.

Drivers must recognize the signs of a distracted driver to protect themselves and others. After a crash due to distracted driving, determining the cause can help you prove liability for the accident.

We at Steven A. Bagen & Associates, PA, help victims of distracted driving accidents recover losses from such incidents and many other personal injury matters. Should you find yourself needing legal assistance, reach out to a car accident attorney as soon as possible.

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How Can You Identify a Distracted Driver in Florida?

Driving requires constant focus and attention, as a single moment of distraction can lead to severe consequences. Unfortunately, distracted driving is a prevalent issue on our roads today. If you spot a distracted driver, practice defensive driving and alert others of the potential danger.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as “anything that diverts the driver’s attention from the primary tasks of navigating the vehicle and responding to critical events.”

Cognitive, manual, or visual distractions include:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Applying makeup or personal grooming
  • Texting or looking at a smartphone or tablet
  • Reading (including looking at maps)
  • Talking on the phone (especially when not using a hands-free device)
  • Adjusting controls, such as the air conditioner or a navigation system
  • Talking to other passengers

While you may identify certain distractions easily—such as seeing a cell phone or a magazine in a driver’s hand—you might not recognize others. Cognitive distractions, in particular, may leave no visual indicator of a distraction.

To reduce the risk of accidents and protect ourselves and others, learn to recognize common signs of a distracted driver.

Here are some tell-tale behaviors:

  • Erratic or inconsistent driving: Drivers who fail to pay full attention to the road will have less control over a motor vehicle. Sudden braking, abrupt lane changes, or inconsistent speed could indicate distractions.
  • Inattention to traffic signals and signs: Distracted drivers may miss traffic signals or signs due to inattention. You may see a distracted driver run a red light, fail to yield, or ignore a stop sign.
  • Drifting or crossing lane lines: An inattentive driver may fail to maintain their position in their lane. Watch for vehicles that drift from side to side or cross over lane lines, as these actions may indicate a distracted driver.
  • Slow reaction time: A distracted driver’s often reacts slowly to changes in traffic conditions. At higher speeds, slowed reaction times grow more dangerous and lead to catastrophic accidents. We see this risk in drunk driving, too. However, the two frequently go hand in hand.

What to Do if You Suspect a Distracted Driver

If you see a distracted driver, maintain a safe distance and remain vigilant. By increasing the distance between yourself and the other driver, you may compensate for their delayed reaction time.

If possible, change your route to prioritize your safety. However, this will not eliminate risks to others on the road. Therefore, consider pulling over and reporting the driver to local law enforcement, especially if their behavior poses a significant danger to others. Provide a detailed description of the vehicle, including the make, model, color, and license plate number, along with the location and a description of the driver’s behavior.

Finally, avoid confronting the driver. Signal your intentions clearly, but avoid escalating the situation by engaging in road rage or other aggressive driving behavior.

When in doubt, do not hesitate to call 911, but please do so from a safe and stationary location.

Determining if a Driver Who Caused a Car Accident Was Distracted

After an accident with a suspected distracted driver, first ensure that you receive medical treatment for any injuries. As soon as you can, contact a skilled Florida car accident attorney. Your lawyer will walk you through the next steps, which may involve filing a personal injury claim and negotiating a settlement for damages.

To prove the validity of your claim and demonstrate the extent of your losses, your lawyer may investigate the incident and build a case. Although Florida is a no-fault state, you may need to determine liability in an accident in situations involving serious bodily injury.

Determining Liability in a Distracted Driving Case

Your lawyer may use various methods to determine how your injuries happened, including what parties caused the accident.

If they suspect distracted driving, your lawyer may try to obtain:

  • Witness statements: If any witnesses saw the accident, their statements could provide valuable insight into the other driver’s behavior before the collision. Witnesses to the accident may also have observed the other driver engaging in distracting activities.
  • Cellphone records: Your lawyer can demand phone records as evidence. These records can show whether the driver texted, talked, or used data at the time of the collision.
  • Surveillance or traffic camera footage: Surveillance cameras in public areas can sometimes provide valuable evidence in distracted driving cases.
  • Physical evidence: A lawyer may turn to evidence from the scene or an accident reconstructionist to examine how the accident happened. Skid marks on the road or the positions of the vehicles can determine how the collision took place and suggest whether distracted driving was at play.

Others Who You May Hold Responsible for Distracted Driving

Generally, a distracted driver who causes an accident must pay for the harm that occurred. But, sometimes, you can hold other parties accountable as well.

For instance, an inoperable piece of in-car technology may have caused an individual to divert attention from driving or take their eyes off the road. In these cases, you can hold the vehicle manufacturer partially to blame for the crash, providing grounds for a product liability lawsuit.

Additionally, an injury involving a distracted driver in a commercial vehicle, such as a truck or delivery van, may make the driver’s employer liable.

Stay Focused: How to Reduce the Risk of Distracted Driving

In addition to recognizing distracted drivers, we must monitor our own behavior to ensure the safety of others.

  • Prepare: Set up anything you’ll need to make your journey more comfortable, such as the GPS or air conditioning, before you start driving. Set your smartphone to “Do Not Disturb” so you do not respond to incoming calls or text messages.
  • Don’t multitask: If you need to make a call, comb your hair, or attend to a child or pet, find a safe place to pull over before doing so.
  • Stay alert: Pay attention to road, weather conditions, and other drivers at all times, and adjust your driving accordingly.
  • Spread the word: Stay informed about the dangers of distracted driving and related laws issue. Together, we can promote a culture of responsible driving.

Our Distracted Driving Attorneys Are Here to Help

Steven A. Bagen Attorney for Car Accident Cases near Gainesville, Florida area
Steven A. Bagen Distracted Driving Lawyer, in Gainesville, Florida area

No matter how carefully you drive, you can never truly negate the risks of other drivers. Unfortunately, distracted driving and other forms of negligent behavior sometimes lead to accidents. Consequently, another person’s negligence hurt you, contact an experienced auto accident attorney in Florida as soon as possible.

The lawyers at Steven A. Bagen & Associates, PA, are passionate about serving their local community and fighting for the rights of those who distracted drivers have wronged. We’re eager to see how we can help you recover compensation in the wake of an accident. Contact us today at (800) 800-2575 for your free consultation.