What do two recent car accidents in the Tampa Bay area have in common? They were both caused by motorists who took their eyes off the road for just a few seconds. These two crashes are part of a growing trend of distracted driving in the area, and Tampa residents are becoming increasingly concerned about staying alert while on the road.
The number of distracted driving accidents in Florida has continued to rise over the years. Nearly 4,000 distracted driving crashes have been recorded in Hillsborough County alone in 2015, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Part of the issue is that it is shockingly easy for a distracted driving accident to occur.
“When you’re driving on any road, be it a highway as 55 miles per hour or 50 miles per hour, or even 30 miles per hour, you take your eyes off the road for one second and that can spell disaster,” explained Rob Shaw of the Clearwater Police Department to WFLA.
Clearly, distracted driving is a problem that Tampa Bay cannot afford to ignore. And while drivers may not be able to stop others from engaging in reckless driving, they can control their own actions on the road, set a positive example for their family, and refrain from contributing to the statistic.
Here are a few ways that drivers in Tampa can avoid distractions in the car, stay alert, and avoid causing an accident:
Turn Off and Put Away Your Phone
Most people don’t get into their car with the intention to text and drive, but the texts, calls, and alerts they receive while on the road can be too tempting to ignore.
Eliminate the temptation to check your phone by turning it off and stowing it away in your bag, backpack, or in the glove compartment while driving. Not only will this help you to stay focused on the road, it will set a good example for your passengers that you take the dangers of distracted driving seriously.
Control Your Passengers
Whether your passenger is a playful pet or a young child, if you’re not careful, you might not be able to focus all of your attention on the road. In fact, children are four times as distracting to drivers as adult passengers are, while babies are eight times as distracting, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Secure your children and pets before beginning you heading to your destination, as excessive movement and play in the backseat of the car can pose a major distraction. If you need to address or attend to your passengers, don’t look or reach over to the backseat while driving — be sure to pull off the road to a safe location first.
Adjust Your Car Before Driving
Even the systems and tools in your car required to drive safely can be a distraction if you choose to adjust them while on the road. Be sure to adjust your rearview and sideview mirrors before getting underway on your commute so that you have full visibility.
Your GPS can be just as distracting as a phone if you are trying to set or change your destination while on the road, so be sure to determine your route and check future traffic conditions while safely parked. Likewise, try to avoid adjusting your radio or sound systems excessively while driving, as just a few seconds of looking away from the road can be lethal.
Don’t Eat on the Go
A meal on the go may seem like a good idea if you’ve missed breakfast, but eating and drinking while driving has been linked to an 80 percent increased likelihood of a crash.
65 percent of near-miss crashes are estimated to be caused by distracted drivers who are eating or drinking, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Surprisingly, the foods most people associate with eating on the go, such as coffee, doughnuts, or soft drinks, are ranked among the 10 most dangerous types of foods to eat while driving, according to the NHTSA. Eating before you drive or saving snacks for your destination is a smart approach to eliminating one element of distracted driving.
No matter how safely you drive, there is always a risk of being hurt by a reckless driver on the road. If you’ve been injured by the negligent actions of another driver, whether they were distracted driving or driving while impaired, our attorneys can help. Read more to learn how our car accident attorneys will fight to get the full compensation you are entitled to after a collision.
If you are ready to pursue a claim, fill out our free, no-risk case evaluation form today.