According to the latest Harris Interactive / HealthDay poll, a vast majority of U.S. drivers admit to various driving distractions, including cell phone use, last-minute grooming, and consumption of food and drink. Perhaps people are not taking this hazardous practice as seriously as they should. Distracted driving causes serious car accidents and is responsible for thousands of injuries and deaths each year.

The NHTSA or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that in 2009, almost 500,000 injuries and roughly 5,500 fatalities resulted from crashes that involved a distracted driver.

Careless driving, the equivalent to distracted driving, was seen to be the primary cause of vehicle accidents in Florida last year, based on Florida’s crash statistics for 2010. Over 332 careless driving accidents resulted in fatalities, and 47,500 resulted in injuries.

Some startling statistics from the Harris/HealthDay poll, include:

  • Eighty-six percent of drivers who responded to the poll admitted to eating or drinking while behind the wheel;
  • Fifty-nine percent admitted to talking on a non-hands-free cell phone;
  • Forty-four percent said they have felt drowsy while driving, some even occasionally dozing off;
  • Forty-one percent admitted to setting a GPS device;
  • Thirty-seven percent admitted to texting while driving;
  • Twenty-five percent of respondents admitted to driving after having two or more drinks;
  • Fourteen percent admitted to applying makeup.

According to Humphrey Taylor, chairman of the Harris Poll, the total number of drivers engaging in potentially dangerous behaviors while behind the wheel is extremely high, especially if you keep in mind that every one percent of these drivers represent more than one-and-three-quarters of a million individuals.

The poll also showed a demographical significance. Certain drivers are more apt to partake in risky behaviors than others. For example, individuals over the age of 65 were less likely to drive distracted than younger drivers. Also, men were more likely than women to drive drowsy, look at maps, consult a GPS system, surf the internet, watch videos and drive after drinking alcohol.

The survey also showed an odd contradiction. While the majority of individuals partake in distracted behavior behind the wheel, most agreed that the same behaviors increased the chances of a car accident “a lot.” Perhaps, this is the most troubling result of all.

Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to help regulate the use of mobile devices in vehicles. Florida is one of the few states without a texting law. However, when the legislature returns in January they will be debating whether to enact a texting while driving law in Florida.

Despite these texting laws, a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that cell phone use and other distracted behaviors have actually risen over time.

Laws may be a step in the right direction, but ultimately the key to stopping distracted driving is people. The car accident attorneys at Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney urge you to not drive while distracted.

An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

The law firm of Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, has provided professional and compassionate legal assistance to car accident victims in South Florida and the Treasure Coast since 1975. The firm sponsors a Facebook campaign to help end distracted driving entitled Hang Up and Drive! We believe that distracted driving is a life-threatening behavior that can be stopped.

If a distracted driver in Florida has injured you or someone you love, call us today at (800) 299-8878 or fill out our convenient online contact form for a free consultation.