Cell Phones and Auto Accidents

In the State of Florida, many people use cell phones while driving. Florida currently imposes no restrictions on cell phone or texting behavior in automobiles. That will change in October, but for now on any given day, another motorist may wave you at you to get your attention because you have your cell phone against your ear. Many cars also sport a “hang up and drive” bumper sticker, showing the car owner’s distaste for the use of cell phones while driving.The other driver does not trust you and for good reason.

Some people equate cell phone use with drunk driving, if only because the cell phone users are about as aware of their surroundings as an intoxicated individual behind the wheel. Cell phone users in parking lots weave around pedestrians and pull into spots without making eye contact, touching their brakes or otherwise acknowledging the presence of others. Let us face it: cell phone use is about being absorbed in communicating with someone not currently present. Cell phone users behind the wheel may be a threat to others. Study after study has demonstrated that those that are using their cell phones while they drive are more likely to suddenly slow down—that in fact those drivers that have their phone in hand almost always slow down to unsafe speeds while reading the screen. Additionally, the distraction of the cell phone leads to increases in sudden lane changes and other unsafe behaviors as drivers realize in an instant that they need to get into another lane, or make a turn, or perform some other maneuver in their car.

Some studies indicate that cell phone use while driving increases the likelihood of an accident by 400 percent. When Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a texting-while-driving act that takes effect in October, he stated that texting drivers were 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident. Tens of thousands of deaths have been attributed to cell phone use behind the wheel resulting in crashes and over a billion injuries have resulted nationwide. With a situation such as this, many states and even local jurisdictions are moving to not only craft new legislation to deal with these cases, but also strengthening the penalties on laws that already exist, since the current restrictions and their penalties don’t have the depth of effect that lawmakers hoped for when creating the legislation.

The texting while driving ban in the State of Florida that is set to go into effect in October can be brought to bear on drivers who engage in the unsafe activity, but the habit of texting is copious and widespread, according to both statistics and obvious anecdotal evidence. Accidents resulting from this behavior are not likely to slow down for years, even with states increasingly passing laws and developing stiff penalties. Who doesn’t reach for the cell phone instinctively when they receive a text, even if they are in the car? The instinct is so ingrained that many people who are otherwise very cautious and careful drivers have fallen victim to the insidious temptation of looking “just for a moment.”
Florida has no ban on hand-held cell phone use, and the ban on texting is a secondary offense, meaning a police officer will need a primary reason to pull a driver over before they can add a charge of texting in Florida. That single detail restricts law enforcement from taking phones away from drivers who are using them improperly; in some jurisdictions that are taking the law more seriously, laws may exist that allow police officers to seize the cell phone as part of a case, as well as getting phone records to prove that a text message was being sent at the time that the defendant was apprehended. On the other hand, in some instances a driver may not be charged with texting while driving until the driver is charged with vehicular homicide. In such cases, the plaintiffs need a good auto accident attorney.

When a texting driver has struck someone, the driver can be sued for gross negligence and reckless disregard or indifference of others; and if the driver is in a company vehicle, action can be taken against the company. In these cases, it can be particularly important and extremely useful to retain the services of an auto accident attorney. Judges are beginning to award punitive damages to plaintiffs in texting-while-driving cases, meaning plaintiffs can be compensated well for their pain and suffering due to the actions of the irresponsible driver.

Cars with The Most Accidents (or accident injuries)

You can attribute it to bad luck, poor performance, or simple carelessness on the part of drivers. Whichever way you characterize it there is no getting around the numbers. Statistically, there are some cars that are more accident-prone than others. According to personal injury claims taken over a period of two years, there are cars that just seem to present a greater risk for being involved in accidents. Among the factors thought to be responsible are the frequency of driving, the number of drivers operating the vehicle, and the tendency of owners to live in urban areas where there are high levels of traffic.

The Yaris

The smallest of the cars manufactured by Toyota, the Yaris tops the list in accident reports. For every 1,000 insured vehicles on the road, 28.5 of the claims belong to owners of this compact car. This number is twice the average figure reported for other cars in the same class of vehicles. The 2009 and 2011 models do receive good reports when it comes to agility on the road, however. It is possible that the manufacturers have been working to improve some of the traits of the car that make it more prone to accidents. It is certainly worth looking into recent reports if you are interested in purchasing the car, and seeing what factors leading to its bad reputation can be negated by vigilance and safe habits on your own part.

The SX4

Suzuki finishes neck in neck with the Yaris. When the accident reports for this vehicle are analyzed, the number of personal injury claims is exceedingly high. The extremely compact design of the vehicle makes it dramatically more likely that passengers will experience injury during a crash. It does feature adequate safety features, but drivers simply cannot safely withstand an impact with larger vehicles on the road. It is an important distinction; while safety features can certainly be helpful, when purchasing a car, the design and its ability to withstand an accident are an important consideration. Particularly if you have children, it is an excellent idea to avoid cars that are going to be a liability in the actual event of accident, even if those cars have a plenitude of features for avoiding them.

The Aveo

The Aveo and its counterpart, the Aveo Wagon, both rank high on the list of accident reports as well. Despite its propensity for collisions, the safety-test ratings of this car are fair. There are fewer injuries reported with every accident claim that is filed. Both side-impact ratings and frontal crash-test results earned the Aveo a rating of “acceptable.” The problem with these evaluations is the fact that they are typically being derived from collisions with another vehicle of a similar size, leaving drivers at a serious disadvantage when it comes to real-world situations. Several studies have demonstrated that larger, sometimes heavier cars do more damage (understandably) to smaller cars due to the fact that their greater mass increases the force with which they strike in collisions.

The Galant

Mitsubishi has recently been climbing the automotive ladder in terms of performance and safety. However, they seemed to have missed a rung when they released the Galant. This car is renowned for its affordability. Unfortunately, it seems that the lower sticker price has come at the expensive of safety.

Many of these cars do not seem to possess any specific problems that are common to all of the models considered. However, these numbers are real trends based on facts that the companies should not ignore. It is entirely possible that other factors are in play, such as the behavior of the types of drivers who tend to purchase these cars; however, anything that can be done to avoid an additional risk is certainly a good idea when shopping for a new car. Drivers who are involved in accidents also should not be ignoring these facts. The full extent of the risk to drivers can properly be assessed by an auto accident attorney. Additionally, the accident reports and claims of personal injury were not always quickly resolved by insurance companies in the majority of cases analyzed. In order to avoid having this situation occur in your life, put an auto accident attorney on your side in order to tip the scales back into balance. An attorney will be able to help you if an accident should occur—they have the expertise to assist in getting you the best possible compensation.

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