The Northwest Florida Daily News reports that a 43 year old man of Mary Esther was charged with careless driving after a crash on U.S. Highway 331 at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. According to a press release from the Florida Highway Patrol, the man was driving southbound on the highway in a 2001 Hyundai Accent when he started to drift off the roadway in a southwest direction. A witness stated that the driver appeared to overcorrect and get back on the road, entering into the northbound lane where he collided with the front of a 2003 Dodge Ram. The impact of the crash forced the Hyundai into a counterclockwise direction. At final rest, the car was in both northbound and southbound lanes facing northwest. Both drivers and the Hyundai’s passenger were wearing seat belts. The crash was not alcohol related, according to the report.
The driver of the Hyundai was taken to Bay Medical Center in Panama City. His condition was listed as serious. His passenger, a 27 year old male of Freeport, was taken to Sacred Heart on the Emerald Coast with minor injuries.
The driver of the Dodge, an 18-year-old from Freeport, reported no injuries.
What was the reason the Hyundai drifted off the roadway. Was he distracted? Distracted driving is typified by any mental or physical activity that takes the driver’s focus off the task of driving. The Florida crash report allows officers to report driver distraction in the following categories: distracted by electronic communication devices (cell phone, etc), other electronic devices (navigation device, DVD player), other distraction inside the vehicle, external distraction (outside the vehicle), texting or general inattentiveness. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
But, because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.
Here are some alarming facts reported by NHTSA:
- The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012. An estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, this was a nine percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011.
- As of December 2013, 153.3 billion text messages were sent in the US (includes PR, the Territories, and Guam) every month.
- 10% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.
- Drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes.
- At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.
- Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times.
- Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.
- Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use.
- A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.