Cell phones accidents are an increasing concern in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 9 people are killed every day in the U.S. in accidents involving a distracted driver. Many of those distracted driving incidents involve a cell phone, with the driver either texting or making a phone call.
Cell Phone Distraction Laws Florida
The CDC classifies driving distractions as visual, manual, or cognitive. Cell phone use is seen as an extremely dangerous distraction, as it involves all three elements. Drivers must remove at least one hand from the wheel, avert eyes from the road, and focus on the call or text. Even hands-free phone calls may distract drivers by calling attention and emotions to the conversation.
Cell Phone Laws in Florida
Many states have begun to enact laws prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving. Drivers caught texting or speaking on the phone while driving may be subject to fines. These laws may vary from state to state. Some states prohibit texting while driving but allow phone calls, while others do not allow cell phone use at all. Drivers may also be found at fault if an accident occurs while a cell phone is being used.
Laws and Fault Determination
Even if a driver is using a cell phone legally, the driver may still be at fault for accidents which occur as a result. This is often the case in states where texting is prohibited but other cell phone uses are allowed. Even in absence of laws restricting cell phone use, distracted driving still puts the driver at fault for the accident. This may be a necessary argument in cases where drivers were using a cell phone to play games or perform other functions while driving.
Cell Phone Accident Liability in Florida
In most cell phone accidents, the driver that was using the phone is liable for any damages to other drivers or individuals that are injured in the accident. However, if a driver is using a cell phone at an employer’s request, the employer may be liable for cell phone accidents. It may be difficult to prove that the employer encouraged use of the cell phone while driving, but an attorney may be able to assist with obtaining supporting testimony and documentation.
Teen Cell Phone Accidents
When teenagers cause cell phone accidents, some argue that parents should be liable. In many cases, parents have purchased the cell phone for the teenager and allowed the teenager to drive. In some cases, parents encourage teenagers to answer the phone or text while driving. The determination of liability in these cases may vary according to state laws and jury decisions. Some states have stricter laws regarding cell phone use for new or young drivers.
Cell Phone Accident Underreporting
The National Safety Council believes that cell phone accident statistics are gravely underreported due to driver unwillingness to admit that cell phone distraction caused the accident. Cell phone usage is not as easy to identify after an accident as other factors, such as alcohol use or lack of a seat belt. The National Safety council warns that the skewed data regarding cell phone accidents may present the problem of cell phone use while driving as a less serious threat than it actually is.
Cell Phone Accident Reporting in Florida
Drivers that have been injured because of another driver’s cell phone use while driving may be entitled to compensation for medical costs and other damages. It is important for injured drivers to alert police if the other driver was noticed using a cell phone during the accident. A police report stating that the at fault driver was using a cell phone may be a key piece of evidence in a lawsuit
Preventing Cell Phone Accidents
The best way to prevent cell phone accidents is to avoid using cell phones for any function while driving. Drivers may put the cell phone on silent to decrease the temptation to respond to calls or texts. While states are continually revising distracted driving laws to prevent cell phone usage while driving, it is up to drivers to prevent cell phone accidents.
“Car Crash Fatalities Caused By Cell Phone Use.” National Safety Council. National Safety Council, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 17 Oct. 2014. <http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/Distracted_Driving/Pages/Cell-Phone-Crash-Data.aspx>
“Distracted Driving.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Oct. 2014. Web. 17 Oct. 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/>
“Does Cell Phone Use Lead To Auto Accidents?” Cell Phone Safety. Cell Phone Safety, 1 Jan. 2013. Web. 17 Oct. 2014. <http://www.cellphonesafety.org/vehicular/accidents.htm>