For good reason, Florida law bans texting while driving for all drivers. We now know that distracted driving -- and particularly texting while driving -- can be as dangerous as driving while drunk.
Still, just as it took years of driver education and law enforcement to lower the annual number of drunk driving deaths, it is going to take major efforts to get people to put down their cell phones and pay attention to the road and their surroundings. In fact, data released earlier this year by the National Safety Council suggests that, despite increased education and enforcement, texting while driving is actually on the rise.
According to the National Safety Council, 1,535,490 auto accidents in 2013 -- 27 percent of the reported total -- were due to cell phone use. Why?
Clearly, drivers need to be made aware of the risk of using handheld devices while behind the wheel. Some say, though, that a core problem is the fact that there are more cell phones out there than ever before, and consequently motorists are more distracted than ever before.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that nine people are killed in the U.S. each day by distracted driving, and hundreds more are injured.
Given the reality of the situation, the National Safety Council is calling on employers and technological gadget makers like Apple to raise awareness around the dangers of distracted driving.
A more obvious but perhaps unlikely solution is that all drivers establish a personal rule to never use a handheld device while operating a motor vehicle. Until that kind of personal accountability is the norm, however, we can expect distracted driving to continue causing accidents that change victims' lives forever.
For more on what to do after an injurious crash, please see VanNess & VanNess' car accident overview.