Auto accidents happen all the time in West Palm Beach. One of the most disturbing causes of car accidents we see these days
is distracted driving.
There is potential for disaster in many different circumstances involving
distracted drivers, such as young, inexperienced drivers, older drivers
(whose reflexes may not be as fast as they need to be) and anyone distracted
by technology such as a cell phone, a smart phone or some other technical device.
Police officers, paramedics, firemen and others responding to emergencies
are using the most wired vehicles on the road, and by virtue of their
sophistication, require attention from the driver, diverting the driver's
attention from the road. Incidents have been reported where emergency
vehicle technicians, who claim the advanced technology is a boon for their
jobs, have actually
caused accidentswhen their attention is diverted by putting information into a GPS, or
even merely looking at it.
Sophisticated radios, navigation systems and cell phones are required
and valuable equipment for these first responders, but unless they using
them while someone else is driving, there is significant potential for
causing auto accidents or hitting pedestrians. Often, this beneficial
technological equipment is provided to first responders who did not have
enough training to deal with diversions that could be "almost exponential"
in causing accidents when compared with those faced by most drivers.
In many geographical areas, such as New York, there are regulations that
the driver's partner, not the driver, is supposed to use on-board
computers in traffic. In the event the partner is tending to the patient
in the back, the driver is supposed to use the devices
before speeding off.
An official from the California Highway Patrol, referring to the hands-free
devices, said, "We love to get this technology, but there are trade-offs."
In reality, all drivers (not just first responders) should be prohibited
from using cell phones or a GPS while driving. They should, by law, be
required to pull over safely before engaging the use of these gadgets.
The proportion of fatalities associated with driver distsraction has increased
from 10 percent in 2005 to 16 percent in 2008 and 2009. The greatest proportion
of distracted drivers was in the under-20 age group.
In Florida, there are currently no laws that prohibit or regulate distracted
driving. This lack of regulation has negatively impacted the State's
road safety score as compared to other parts of the country. A ban on
texting behind the wheel has been enacted in 19 states and the District
of Columbia. Seven states have banned the use of all handheld devices
while driving. Florida should follow suit, for the sake of safety.
Federal safety regulators have recently proposed a new series of guidelines
for states to help them create laws which ban text messaging while behind
the wheel. This would be a powerful tool in the states' arsenals to
help them combat this acknowledged serious threat. Under these proposed
guidelines, people who are caught typing on a cell phone or other handheld
device while driving could face a fine of $75, at minimum, and some unspecified
action may be taken against their driving privileges. If the case results
in death or severe injury, a felony “driving while texting”
offense may be charged.
In sum, the increase in mobile technology comes with an increase in the
amount of distracted driving. This, in turn, causes more accidents, unless
this technology is regulated for use while driving. Until Florida enacts
some sort of legislation, Florida's accident rate due to driver distraction
will continue to rise.