'Tis the Season for Distracted Driving on Florida Roadways

December 12, 2019

Yes, it is that time of year. Florida's roadways are filled with out-of-towners coming to shop, relatives arriving for a visit, and tourists flooding to the state's theme parks for a seasonal vacation. From Thanksgiving to New Year's, statistically more vehicles are on the road than at other times of the year, which is reason enough for you to take extra precautions by anticipating that traffic will be heavier than normal. Start by giving yourself more time to maneuver your vehicle in the holiday crowds. Since most shopping areas open earlier and close later, you likely have a choice as to when to face the huge crowds and deal with holiday gridlock. After all, even the parking lots will be more crowded than normal, leading to an increase in driver frustration and more fender benders for the auto shops to repair.

Holiday Distractions to Guard Against

When drivers are stuck in holiday traffic, there is a tendency to ignore the "rules of the road" and the safety issues they represent. Often the pressure of deadlines to have everything completed on time becomes a mental distraction that can contribute to an unexpected auto accident. Unfortunately, along with the seasonal spirit of spreading "Joy to the World", comes an overload of distractions like those discussed below:

  • Visual Distractions - Fact is, the winter holidays come with an overload of visual distractions with brightly colored flashing lights and seasonal displays competing for your attention. As a driver, these need to be ignored. Instead, plan a slow trip through the neighborhood to admire the decorations when there is less on your mind.
  • Cognitive Distractions - If you could take a snapshot of what is going through your head, would it look like a serene landscape or an abstract painting by Picasso? Taking a moment to clear your thoughts before you get behind the wheel will allow you to focus on the added dangers of driving during the holidays.
  • Social Distractions - Along with an increase in social outings during the holidays comes an increase in alcohol consumed. In fact, people who normally don't drink are more apt to participate. Yes, spiked eggnog counts. Nonetheless, it is your responsibility to make sure you don't drive if you have a few too many. Plan ahead and opt for a ride share.
  • Hand-Held Distractions - Many safety experts consider hand-held electronic devices to be the biggest contributors to Florida's rising auto accident rate. When a driver takes one or both hands off the wheel and their eyes off the road, the risk of being involved in an accident increases exponentially. Recently, the state passed new laws to help reduce crashes attributable to "human choices" and the use of cell phones.

The Florida Hands-Free Act that went into effect on July 1, 2019 makes texting while operating a vehicle on Florida roadways a primary offense. Moreover, the DMV urges drivers to refrain from talking on their phones while operating a vehicle, however doing so is still not illegal in most driving situations. Nonetheless, as of October 1, 2019, the use of a hand-held device for any reason is prohibited when driving through school zones and all highway work zones in the state of Florida.

Make Your Holiday One to Remember for the Right Reasons

Everyone wants a holiday to remember. Make sure your memories are for all the right reasons and not related to the holiday gathering you experienced waiting at the emergency room. Personal injury claims are categorized into three areas of culpability to include negligence, intentional or malicious wrongdoings, and strict liability claims that encompass a broad range of accidents from distracted driving to injuries sustained from dangerous products. If you or a loved one are injured during the winter holiday season, our personal injury lawyers and expert team of accident investigators are here for you. Whether you decide to hire our law firm or not, we offer a FREE initial attorney consultation to explain your rights and options. Call our Gainesville office toll free at 1-877-798-7700 or use this website's form for DO I HAVE A CASE? for a prompt response.

From the attorneys and staff at Schackow & Mercadante, have a safe and happy holiday.

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