Many studies have confirmed the dangers of texting and driving. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute conducted research which found that drivers who texted were 23 times more likely to be in a crash when compared with drivers who kept their focus on the road. A study by Car and Driver magazine found that while inebriated drivers took an extra eleven feet to brake, texting drivers had even slower response times and took an additional 70 feet to stop. In addition to many studies like these, there is ample anecdotal evidence in the form of many fatal car accidents in Miami and across the country
In 2010, the federal government acknowledged the dangers of texting while driving and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced rule 392.80, which effectively prohibited texting and driving for commercial truck drivers. The same rule prohibited motor carriers “allowing or requiring its drivers” to text and drive. Under the rules, commercial truck drivers cannot text unless they are safely pulled over on the side of the road. They cannot text while waiting at a traffic light, for example.
Despite the research and the FMCSA rules, however, truck accidents in Miami and across the country continue to be caused by distracted drivers. There are many potential reasons:
1) Not all states have texting bans. Florida does not currently have a ban in place for non-commercial vehicles. This keeps some drivers on the road texting – and may inadvertently send the message that texting while driving is ok.
2) Not all drivers must adhere to texting bans. Since motorists of passenger cars in Florida can text and drive, some of these motorists may be causing traffic accidents in Miami and other communities. Banning texting and driving for just some drivers may not be enough, some experts claim. No matter how careful truck drivers are, other distracted drivers on the road may crash into them or may cause an accident.
3) Texting culture is deeply ingrained. Mobile devices are often marketed as essential for organization and communication. Not only are these devices ubiquitous but many users feel that they need to be connected all the time – even when driving. These beliefs may make it harder for some motorists to put their mobile devices away when driving.
4) Texting is challenging to curb. Even though truck drivers are not allowed to text and drive, it is difficult to prevent this type of behavior. Truck drivers who insist on texting and driving can simply hide mobile devices in their lap or under the steering while driving, making it hard for police and others to notice that they are breaking the law.
5) Texting is not the only distraction. Most experts agree that any type of distracted driving increases the risk of a traffic accident in Miami and in every community across the country. Yet, it is virtually impossible to legislate all possible distracted behaviors.
As personal injury attorneys who often see the devastation that truck collisions cause, the Flaxman Law Group has seen the importance of getting the “no distraction” message across.