According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, approximately 88% of millennials engaged in risky behavior behind the wheel, including texting, running red lights, and speeding. It is reported that young millennial drivers, those between the ages of 19-24, were twice as likely to send and read a text message while driving, and more shockingly, statists show that 50% of millennials reported running red lights even though they stated it would have been safe for them to stop. Naturally, this behavior is not only dangerous for millennials but also for all other drivers on the road, so what can be done? And what should you look for if you have been in an accident with a millennial?
In Florida, “distracted driving” is defined as a crash that occurs because a driver was doing one or more of the following:
Unfortunately, young millennials are prone to distracted driving, which falls into three categories:
Visual: When a driver’s eyes are not on the road at the time or immediately before the accident;
Manual: When a driver’s hands or feet lose contact with the steering wheel or pedals; and
Cognitive: When you are not focused on driving, i.e., daydreaming.
The reason why texting while driving is reportedly so dangerous is that it engages all three areas of distraction. It takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind off driving. Millennials under the age of 20 actually have the highest rate of fatal crashes in the United States due to distracted driving.
Unfortunately, Florida does not have a ban on cell phone use for drivers or even a ban on cell phone use for drivers 18 and under. Florida is one of only a few states that permit drivers under the age of 18 to use their cell phone while driving, which can mean danger on Florida roads.
Florida law does, however, make it illegal to text while driving, but texting is not punishable as a “primary” offense. This means that if you are stopped at a red light and a police officer sees you texting, you cannot be stopped for this alone. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be, but it is technically not permissible if it is the only reasons for the stop. You must have committed another traffic offense, such as running a red light, and if the officer saw you texting as well, a violation of the texting statute would be “secondary” to that offense.
However, if a millennial was texting while driving and caused an accident, this is sufficient to impute full liability onto the distracted driver. Just because it is not a primary criminal offense does not mean full liability cannot attach for your personal injuries and property damage. If you believe you were injured because of distracted driving due to cell phone use, you should contact a Clearwater personal injury attorney who can explain how Florida traffic violations interplay with liability for your injuries.
Surprisingly, or maybe not so, it is reported that most car crashes occur when cars are simply traveling straight ahead. Sideswipe accidents, i.e., changing lanes when a car is in your blind spot or reaching for something causing your vehicle to swerve into another lane, are the most common. This is followed closely by rear-end collisions, which are common among millennials because if you take your eyes off the road to text, you will quickly gain ground on a vehicle that has stopped or slowed in front of you.
Generally, liability for rear-end collisions is pretty simple provided the car that was rear-ended was keeping a safe distance from the car in front of it and did not stop short without due cause. For example, if you see a turn into a parking lot coming up that you are about to miss and quickly slam on the breaks to make the turn, you may be liable, at least in part, for causing the collision. However, if a bicyclist falls onto the road in front of you and you must hit your brakes hard in order to safely stop and you are rear-ended as a result, you will likely not be deemed liable for the accident.
Many states require safety education about texting and distracted driving prior to allowing a millennial to get her license, but the most important education comes at home. The problem is that once a young driver texts, blows a red light or stop sign, and speeds a few times without “danger,” they are more likely to do it again. It is important that parents strictly teach and enforce safe driving. It only takes one distracted moment to change the course of your life. Safe driving tools, such a those offered by certain insurance companies and even certain smartphone apps, may help parents monitor and prevent serious – if not fatal – Florida car accidents.
Car accidents and personal injuries caused by distracted driving are common, whether you are riding a motorcycle, bike, or driving a truck, they affect everyone on the road. Unfortunately, millennials can cause a great deal of Florida accidents, and even though they are young, it is important for the safety of everyone on the road that you assert your rights to compensation for your personal injuries. If a young driver was breaking the law while on the road, this may entitle you to a swift judgment on liability. The Dolman Law Group has the personal injury lawyers you need in the greater Clearwater area. Call them today at 727-451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation about your car accident or contact them online.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765