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Based on car accident statistics from the first six months of 2015, Florida and the rest of the country could be on pace for the “deadliest driving year since 2007,” according to the National Safety Council.
As a law firm that investigates car accidents for clients in Orlando, Winter Park and throughout Florida, we are not surprised. We believe a key contributor to the increase is driver distraction.
The NSC reports that 18,630 traffic deaths occurred between January and June of this year, marking a 14 percent rise from the first six months of 2014, when 16,400 car crash fatalities were recorded. If this continues, the NSC states, it could push the nation’s traffic deaths total beyond 40,000 for the first time since 2007.
Additionally, the NSC reports, serious car accident injuries are up by 30 percent nationally, approaching 2,254,000. The estimated total cost of those crashes between January and June was $152 billion, or 24 percent higher than a year ago.
In Florida, traffic crash fatalities rose at a rate exceeding the national average, according to NSC figures. The number of car accident deaths in our state in the first six months rose from 1,114 in 2014 to 1,441 in 2015 – a 29 percent increase. Only one other state, Oregon, saw a greater increase in crash deaths.
States with Highest Motor Vehicle Death Increases: January to June 2015
A question many may have is, “Why are deadly car accidents on the rise?”
The NSC, a non-profit organization that studies safety issues and provides safety improvement guidance, suggests the increase is due to the fact that people are driving more and driving longer distances.
“[A]n improving economy with lower gas prices and unemployment rates herald increases in vehicle miles traveled,” the NSC states in a press release, pointing to the fact that average gas prices are 30 percent lower than they were in 2014 (and expected to remain low through 2016).
The NSC makes a good point. However, we believe that distracted driving cannot be overlooked as a major factor that is contributing to the spike in deadly crashes.
In the car accident cases that our law firm handles, we see driver distraction repeatedly coming up as an issue. The problem mainly involves smartphone use.
A recently released survey by AT&T reflects what we are seeing. In May 2015, the company announced that seven out of 10 people who participated in its survey said they use a smartphone while driving – and not just for talking or texting.
According to the survey results, people also used their smartphones while driving for:
|Surfing the net||28%||14%|
|27%||Shooting a video||12%|
|Snapping a “selfie”||17%||Snapchat||11%|
Regretfully, 22 percent of people who said they accessed social networks while driving said they did so because of an “addiction,” while 27 percent of those who said they shot videos said they could do it safely while operating a vehicle.
As this survey shows, too many people believe they can “multi-task” while driving. And this goes beyond using smartphones behind the wheel. People also try to eat, drink, smoke, put on makeup, read and even handle their pets while driving, too.
Whenever a person takes his or her eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or mind off what they should be doing while driving, it can lead to a crash.
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has provided a list of “10 Tips for Managing Driver Distractions.” We suggest checking it out. It can remind you of what you can and should do when driving in order to make yourself and others on the road safer. The tips include:
We hope drivers in Orlando, Winter Park and throughout Florida take distracted driving seriously. As the recent NSC figures show, there can be deadly consequences when we fail to think and act safely when driving.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been harmed by a distracted driver, make sure to contact an experienced Orlando car accident attorney who will review your case and help you to seek just compensation for your injuries and other losses.