Distracted Driving

Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

Category: Car Accidents |

There is a growing awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, but this has not prevented drivers from engaging in this unsafe behavior. It is estimated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that distracted driving is responsible for over 3,000 traffic deaths annually. You cannot drive safely unless you have your entire focus on the task of driving. While you cannot prevent other drivers from distracted driving, there are some steps you can take to avoid distracted driving. Put Your Phone Away The most important thing you can do to avoid distracted driving is to put your phone in your purse or glove compartment so that you are not tempted to use it while driving. Texting and driving is the most dangerous form of distracted driving because it takes your visual and cognitive attention off the road. Cell phones should only be used in cases of emergency, and when doing so, it is important to try and pull over to the side of the road. Finish Personal Grooming Before You Get on the Road  Make sure you fix your hair and makeup before getting behind the wheel. Applying makeup and performing other grooming tasks while driving can be very dangerous. Adjust Your Position Before Driving Before you start driving, make sure that your mirrors and seat have been comfortably adjusted. Making changes while driving can be distracting and take your attention off the road. Don’t Eat Behind the Wheel.  Take that meal home or pull over before you eat it. Balancing a burger and a drink can be very distracting and messy. Your hunger can wait. Minimize Distractions in the Car Try not to overload your car with passengers. Ask your passengers to keep the noise level down so that you can maintain your focus on the road. Explain to your children the importance of allowing the driver of a car to focus on their driving. If your baby or pet has become a distraction, pull over and take care of their needs before you drive any further. Pull Over to Program Your Navigation System One of the most important ways you can avoid distracted driving is to refrain from programming your navigation system while driving. Pull over or program the system before you get on the road. Taking your visual and cognitive attention off the road can be deadly. Call Out Distracted Driving If you are the passenger in a car and you notice that the driver is distracted, call them out on it. Tell the driver that you don’t feel safe when they are texting and driving and explain to them how dangerous it can be to drive distracted. Contact a Trusted Car Accident Attorney If you’ve been involved in an accident with a distracted driver, you should contact an experienced Tampa Bay car accident attorney. The attorneys at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk have been trusted by over 20,000 clients to help them pursue compensation for their injuries. Contact us online or call us at 800-753-5203 to set up your free consultation today.

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Top Causes of Florida Auto Accident Injuries

Category: Car Accidents |

According to a report from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, as of November 25, 2018, there were 349,430 car crashes in 2018. As a result of these accidents, there were 221,723 reported injuries. That’s a staggering number but not surprising given the reputation of Florida drivers. Injuries sustained in an auto accident commonly include fractures, back and neck injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. In Florida, the most common causes of these injuries include: Distracted Driving According to a 2017 study, Florida was the second worst state in the nation for distracted driving. Distracted driving is anything that takes your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road or your focus off of the task at hand.  Distracted driving can result in drivers not seeing other vehicles, failing to notice stop signs and traffic signals, and drifting into other lanes of traffic. All of these situations can lead to serious injuries to other drivers. Drowsy Driving A driver who is drowsy is dangerous on the roadway because fatigue can impair the driver’s ability to make decisions, slow down thought process and reaction time, and affect judgment and vision. This can lead to drivers veering into other lanes, rear-end collisions and other serious accidents. Speeding Speed limits in Florida are put in place to help drivers get to their destinations safely. When drivers go above the speed limit, their chances of being involved in an accident are high. Speeding makes it more difficult to navigate turns and curves and can make it more difficult to react to hazards in the road. In addition, a high-speed car crash can lead to more severe injuries than a crash at normal speed. Bad Weather Wet roads and heavy rains are common in Florida. Bad weather and road conditions can cause a vehicle to react unpredictably. Drivers who don’t know how to handle a car in bad weather can cause serious accidents. Failing to Obey Traffic Signals Failing to come to a full stop at a stop sign or ignoring a traffic light can easily result in an intersection accident. Side-impact crashes are commonly the result of a failure to obey traffic signs and signals and can cause serious injuries to other drivers and passengers. Drunk Driving In Florida, if a driver has a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher or is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, that driver is considered a drunk driver. Drunk drivers have a severely impaired ability to react to changing situations on the road and frequently drive at high speeds. This can result in tragic accidents with traumatic injuries. Contact a Trusted Attorney If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact the trusted lawyers at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk online or call us at 1-800-753-5203 to schedule your free consultation.

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Distracted Driving and In-vehicle Technology

Category: Accidents |

When you buy a new car now, it comes with all kinds of fascinating features. It is now estimated that within 5 years, approximately 90% of new vehicles will come with information and entertainment systems. Vehicle infotainment systems, like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or Toyota’s Entune system, can help you send text messages, make phone calls, check the weather, find a radio station, and operate the navigation system, all while you’re driving. But these new features can be dangerous for drivers. What is Distracted Driving? Distracted driving is driving your vehicle without devoting all of your focus to that task. A distracted driver is trying to do multiple things at once. They are driving and possibly talking to a passenger, eating, putting on makeup, disciplining children, or engaging with a car’s in-vehicle technology. Because these activities take away at least part of your focus, it becomes a dangerous situation for everyone on the road. Why is In-vehicle Technology Dangerous? The infotainment system in your car can be a tempting distraction. The automobile industry claims that these new systems are better and safer alternatives for drivers than mobile phone and navigation systems that were not designed for people to use while driving. However, a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety discovered that the infotainment systems in new cars could distract drivers for over 40 seconds at a time. According to AAA, just looking away from the road for two seconds can almost double your chance of being involved in an accident. Programming the navigation system was the most time-intensive task, forcing drivers to take their eyes off the road for more than 40 seconds. In that amount of time, a car driving 25 miles per hour would travel the length of four football fields, all while mostly driving blind. Preventing Distracted Driving Researchers say that these infotainment systems can be made safer by following federal recommendations such as logging out texts, disabling social media, and not allowing the programming of the navigation system while the car is in motion. But there are also steps you can take to reduce your own distracted driving. There are clear steps you can take, like not programming your navigation system until your vehicle is parked. You can also place your phone in the glove compartment and make a choice not to sync it to the in-vehicle technology system. While this might not be realistic for all, there are other options to help you avoid the temptation of engaging with your car’s infotainment system, such as installing driving apps on your phone to prevent you from being distracted. Contact an Experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney If you’ve been injured in an accident with a distracted driver, you should have your case evaluated by an experienced Florida personal injury attorney. Contact the trusted lawyers at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk or call us at 1-800-753-5203 to schedule your free consultation.

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Three Types of Distracted Driving Evidence Injury Lawyers Use in Car Accident Cases

Category: Car Accidents |

If you are like most drivers, you do everything that you can to keep yourself, your passengers, and your fellow drivers safe when you are on the road. Unfortunately, it only takes a moment of inattention for a distracted driver to make a mistake that can seriously hurt innocent people. When that happens, personal injury lawyers 0ften need to provide evidence showing what had distracted the at-fault driver at the time of the accident. The types of distracted driving evidence that a car accident lawyer may use varies depending on the nature of the case. Below are three of the more common types of evidence that an injury law team may look for. Distracted Driving Evidence at the Scene of the Accident In many cases, one or more individuals are able to have claimed that they witnessed a driver who was distracted while using a mobile device at the time of an accident. Injury victims themselves may have seen that the driver was clearly talking or texting on a device immediately before an accident. In other cases, witnesses, including individuals riding with the at-fault driver, come forward to confirm that the driver was distracted to the point of negligence. This is one of the reasons that it is so important to file a police report and obtain contact information from witnesses immediately after an accident. Proving Distracted Driving through Cell Phone Records Of course, injury victims have obtained meaningful evidence that a driver was distracted with a mobile device when they are at the scene of the accident itself. Instead, a personal injury lawyer can get the distracted driving evidence necessary to at least partially prove fault by obtaining the at-fault driver’s mobile phone records. In many cases, the most important information for a case in a negligent driver’s phone records include call logs, text messages, and time-stamped data usage from the day of the collision. Gathering Evidence from Event Data Recorders Many modern vehicles are equipped with event data recorders (EDRs) that record various information that can be very helpful when investigating a collision. Some of the relevant information captured by EDRs include accelerator pedal position, vehicle speed, brake pedal position, and the change in velocity at the time of an accident. When it comes to a distracted driving investigation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that data captured by an EDR can help explain the action or lack of action a driver took in the events leading up to a collision. These records can be matched up with non-electronic evidence of distracted driving recorded by law enforcement or rescue personnel, such as makeup, reading materials, electronic devices, or other distracting materials found at the scene. In recent years, distractions like texting while driving have become an epidemic in Florida. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a distracted driving accident, our injury law team may be able to help. Call Abrahamson & Uiterwyk today for a free case evaluation.

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How to Talk with Your Teen About Texting and Driving

Category: Car Accidents |

Did you know that your teen can drive the entire length of a football field in the amount of time it takes to read or send an average text? According to the CDC, that’s exactly how far we are effectively driving blind when we check our phones while driving at highway speeds. Safety experts continue to tell us that texting and driving is as dangerous as drunk driving, but it’s not easy to get that through the heads of teenage drivers when they are behind the wheel. That has to be a scary thought for any parent. But there’s just no getting away from the fact that relying on smartphones is a part of life these days. And that means that there’s a lethal source of distraction at arms reach every time our teens are behind the wheel. As a parent, it’s up to you to ensure that your teen knows just how dangerous texting and driving really is and how to avoid the temptation. And, like so many things with teenagers, the key to getting these messages into his or her head is repetition. With that in mind, we’ve put together the following tips for talking with your family about teen texting and driving. Have an intentional, authentic conversation about the topic. Don’t make the mistake of trying to cover this important issue in passing during a casual conversation. Find an appropriate time and space to speak with your family about distracted driving specifically. Prepare ahead of time by finding some facts and statistics you want to share, as well as clarifying what you need to discuss the most. Having a list of questions ready to work from that you’d like to review with your teen can also be helpful. Make shared commitments. Instead of dictating rules that only apply to your teen, we encourage you to make commitments together that you all agree to when it comes to distracted driving. This can include a commitment to hold each other accountable moving forward which invites your teens to remind you to hold up your end of the deal. Agree to signing a driver’s contract. The team at TeenSafe has put together a simple document for parents and teens to review and sign together that make these commitments feel much more tangible. In addition to agreements about distracted driving, this document also covers other driving safety commitments involving issues like road rage and what to do after an accident. Sadly, we know the devastating impact that a distracted driving accident can have on a family. At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we’re committed to making our roads safer by encouraging drivers of all ages to stay focused on the road and get to their destinations safely. Unfortunately, distracted driving accidents continue to happen everyday every day, leaving car accident victims seriously injured and who may in need of our help. If you or a loved one has been seriously hurt in a car accident in Tampa, Clearwater, or the surrounding area, please call us today at 1-800-753-5203. Our car accident lawyers can provide you with a free evaluation of your case, and we may be able to stand up for your rights.

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Abrahamson & Uiterwyk Announces their July 2017 Distracted Driving essay winner

Category: Distracted Driving |

Tristen Sharp is 18 years old and resides in Bonnie, IL. She is enrolled in the pre-law program and in pursuit of a degree in Political Science at the Illinois State University, and once accepted into law school will aim for a Juris Doctorate in Law. Tristen has suffered not once but twice at the hands of negligent drivers, both accidents occurring within an 18-month period. Tristen’s remarkable story is detailed in her winning essay, submitted for the Abrahamson & Uiterwyk semi-annual scholarship program. We received hundreds of applications again and Tristen’s was chosen as the winning essay based on her overwhelming commitment to end distracted driving and the life-changing effects that accidents have on all those involved. Tristen submitted a video with her application, which can be viewed here. Well done to Tristen Sharp, and we congratulate you on being selected as the winning entrant and wish you all the best in your academic pursuits. Here is the winning essay: Distracted Driving and Plan Written By: Tristen Sharp On Wednesday evening, I met my mother at a local restaurant to eat dinner before heading off to church. Nothing was different, as my usual routine on Wednesday’s was always the same. After pulling into the church parking lot a little after 7:00 p.m., I placed my cell phone in hand and proceeded on to the crosswalk. As I looked both directions, I noticed a car approaching from my left. The car approaching stopped to make a left-hand turn and I looked both ways one last time before proceeding into the intersection. I have no other memory of the chain of events that took place after that moment because I was struck by a car coming from the opposite direction ( Home – WSIL). The injuries I sustained were critical with the most extreme being the injuries to my brain. My skull was removed in an attempt to save my life and I now lacked the memory to remember who I was. After extensive rehabilitation and re-learning many aspects of my life, I was now left with many unanswered questions. “Did I not look both ways before I crossed that street? Was I not paying attention? How could he not see me?” The emotional toll of these unanswered questions would test me to the core. As I searched for answers to these very questions, the answers slowly came to light. Witnesses advised that I did look both ways, twice! My cell phone company verified that there was no activity on my cell phone. “So, how did this happen?” My whole life was changed forever at age 16. Some would say this is the story of a lifetime and a place where this story should end. However, it’s not. June 11th, 2017 was just another typical day. My friend and I had decided to go get ice cream at one of our favorite places. This is the moment where I have no memory of the chain of events that would occur next. A driver crossed the center median of the interstate and struck us head on with no warning (Full Service). I was flown to a trauma center due to my injuries. Upon waking up from another medically induced coma, I would now be labeled again as the girl with another Traumatic Brain Injury. Distracted driving causes numerous accidents, injuries and often times fatalities throughout the world. Families lives are turned upside down and some never get the chance to return back to the life they previously lived. Law enforcement must become more proactive against all types of distracted driving and our criminal justice system must start imposing stiffer penalties for distracted driving in general. While I may not have been the driver involved in either accident, I am still a driver myself. I owe an equal obligation to everyone around me, that I, myself, do my best to insure the safety of others. It is extremely important to have discussions with your friends and family about the effects of distracted driving and ways to reduce the accidents caused by this. I have created a Distracted Driving Plan for other individuals to use in discussions with their family in hopes of protecting the loved ones of others. Oftentimes, we as individuals get so hung up in our busy lives that time gets away from us. We find ourselves thinking about multiple things while we are heading somewhere else. Little thought is given to the devastation that is caused by distracted driving. As a person living with the injuries sustained in an auto accident, I can assure you that the struggles I have had to overcome has been life changing. In a split second, you can easily become a victim, or a defendant. Distracted Driving Plan We will not operate a vehicle in an unsafe manner. We will obey all driving laws in the manner in which they are implemented for. We will further educate our friends and family about the effects of distracted driving. We will always look twice, and cross once to ensure our safety and the safety of others while operating a vehicle or as a pedestrian. We will not talk or text on a cell phone while driving. We will pay attention to our surroundings.

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Abrahamson & Uiterwyk Announces their January 2017 Distracted Driving essay winner

Category: Distracted Driving |

Melanie Mooney is a high school senior in Munster Indiana, who enjoys running in cross-country and track events. Melanie is also a member of her school’s Student Government, Speech, and HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America) team, and plans to attend Purdue University West Lafayette, majoring in Biology with a goal of becoming a veterinarian. Melanie, along with hundreds of other applicants, were asked to create and submit a “Safety Contract”, together with an essay on Distracted Driving, an unfortunate consequence of our modern society. Abrahamson & Uiterwyk received a record number of submissions in our semi-annual scholarship contest, and choosing a winner was not easy! Congratulations from all of us at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk and best of luck in your academic pursuits! Here is the winning essay: Distracted Driving Essay and BE SMARTFamily Safety Plan Written By: Melanie Mooney “I’m a teenage girl. My BFF Becky texts me and says she’s kissed Johnny. Well, that’s a problem because I like Johnny. Now, I am emotionally compromising (swerve)…Whoops.” This quotation from Allstate’s Mayhem driving commercial presents a semi-comical scenario persuading customers to purchase Allstate Insurance; however, this commercial alludes to more than just the importance of having high-quality insurance. It presents a far more encompassing issue that nations all around the world face today: distracted driving.If one person was injured every second for approximately five consecutive days, it would be equivalent to the amount of people injured each year from distracted drivers. That is over 421,000 injured people each year, all stemming from distractions as small as changing the radio station from an overplayed song that just cannot be heard again, to larger circumstances, such as putting on makeup using the visor mirror above the driver’s seat. Distracted driving is defined as any action that diverts a driver’s focus from their driving responsibilities. These actions delve deeper than texting or talking on the phone, such as eating, changing a radio station or song, applying cosmetics, singing or dancing, taking layers of clothes off, browsing out the window, or dozing off to sleep. Although future generations will add to the list of physical driving distractions, it is important to note that there are several subconscious distractions as well. In an endlessly busy society, people can never fully isolate the task at hand without worrying about something else. Often times, I experience this driving distraction first hand. On my way to school, I find myself worrying about important exams that day, if I remembered to grab everything I need, and of course, the critical question of whether I would beat some traffic and arrive on time. I never used to realize myself doing this, and although I have never been in an accident because of it, I put myself at greater risk every time I do it. I know that these thoughts and worries certainly steal away my focus equally as much as a cell phone would; thus, in order to become a more focused driver, I will have to put off the worrying until I actually arrive at school. Once the causes of distracted driving are identified, avoiding the act should be the easy part. But in reality, it is something that is only mastered with practice. I believe the first step in truly ending distracted driving is realizing what one has to lose. Imagine how your life and others’ lives would be affected if you hurt yourself or another person. The second step is practice, whether it be putting your phone in the backseat to avoid using it, changing the radio only when the car is not in motion, or for me, waking up ten minutes earlier each morning to organize and plan my day in order to clear my mind of all distractions. The final step to avoid distracted driving is to know yourself. For example, if you pulled an all-nighter, your favorite pet just passed away, or you just found out your BFF Becky kissed your lifelong crush Johnny, save your life and those around you by containing your emotions and abstaining from driving until your mind is focused solely on your driving. Melanie’s BE SMART Distracted Driving Family Plan Physical distractions last at least three seconds, while mental distractions can last up to 27 seconds. I pledge to BE SMART and be distracted for 0 seconds.

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Abrahamson & Uiterwyk Scholarship Announces 2016 Distracted Driving Essay Contest Winner

Category: Distracted Driving |

Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, Florida personal injury attorneys, are proud to announce that R. Isaac Boulter, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the 2016 recipient of a $1500 scholarship for his essay on Distracted Driving.   Mr. Boulter is currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Music program for piano performance as well as the Bachelor of Arts program for Russian Language and Culture at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He has hopes of becoming fluent in Russian language so that he can study in country. Isaac, along with nearly one hundred other applicants, were asked to write an essay on the topic of distracted driving. Our desire was to help students with their educational goals while also raising awareness about the important issue of distracted driving. Mr. Boulter wrote a very compelling essay that met, and exceeded, all of the criteria listed including statistics, personal accounts and thoughtful suggestions encouraging young people to avoid distracted driving. All essays were judged based on originality, style, grammar, and accuracy. Congratulations from all of us at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk and best of luck in your academic pursuits! Here is the winning essay: Risk Management Written by: R. Isaac Boulter  My girlfriend is an excellent driver. She has been driving for nearly five years; she started as early as possible. For her it was a vital source of independence, and much of her high school life centered around it: her job, to pay for gas; her social life, which depended on her mobility; and even school, to which she drove herself every day for two years. Now, in our first year of college, she drives herself from our home in Burnsville, North Carolina, to NC State University in Raleigh and back. She visits me at UNC Chapel Hill. She has spent a lot of time behind the wheel, and overall there are not a lot of people our age whom I know that are as experienced as she. My girlfriend also has a habit of driving while distracted. She is all too willing to check her phone, answer texts, put on music. When I express discomfort she points out that she is a very good driver, and that she does this all the time. Both of these statements are true, and she has never been in an accident… so why do I still feel a vague dread whenever her eyes leave the road for her screen? When I was thirteen, my family took a camping trip across the American Southwest, and among the many places we visited was Arches National Park. I took great pleasure in clambering over the red Utah rocks, much to the displeasure of my mother. As the day progressed so did my aspirations, and by the time we came to the Double Arch I was in full rock­climber mode. My mother heard me call for her to “look where I am!” and turned to see me many, many feet above the floor of the cavern, and her gasp, along with those of dozens of other tourists, let me know that I should most likely climb down. As we walked back to the car, I was sullen and embarrassed, and quite unwilling to hear Mom’s chastisement. As she walked on in exasperation, my dad caught up with me to try a different tack. He explained to me how scared Mom had been by seeing me up that high, because she was worried I might fall. I scoffed; it had been a really easy climb. The chances of my falling were minuscule. I was surprised to hear him agree, and then he said something to me that I never forgot. “It’s not that we doubt your ability to climb up those rocks, son. It’s just that the penalty for failure is so, so much higher.”  I’ve thought about that ever since; that the risk of something determines how willing one might be to do it, regardless of difficulty. Many of us have this risk management skill instinctually; our willingness to approach the pinnacle of a two­foot high wall is often much greater than our willingness to approach that of a thirty­foot one. The probability that you will fall is not increased by the height of the wall, but the consequences of falling from thirty feet are a great deal more final. Would a parent be so willing to let her children leap from couch to carpet to chair, if the floor were actually covered in boiling lava? Nothing has changed except the severity of what happens if the child missteps or mistimes a leap. I firmly believe this idea applies to other aspects of our lives where the results of our actions are less immediate in our conscience. A thirty­ foot fall is easily imagined when standing on the brink; a fatal accident when sitting behind the wheel, less so. The American Center for Disease Control states that “texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction[: visual, manual, and cognitive]”1, meaning that it takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind off the task of driving. Even if you are usually able to multitask in that fashion, the penalty for the smallest mistake can be severe, even permanent. According to the Disaster Center’s Motor Vehicle Accident Death and Injury Data Index, “about half of property damage accidents result in injuries or fatalities.”2 About half. Nearly 50%. In essence, a coin toss. I wouldn’t like those odds for something trivial. For something as serious as life and death? There’s a chance that I might come out alive, even unscathed. But is it worth the risk?”

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5 Distracted Driving Myths that Simply Aren’t True

Category: Car Accidents |

Think you know everything there is to know about distracted driving? Check out these myths and we’ll see if that’s true: Myth #1: It’s legal. Actually, in an attempt to cut down on accidents, more municipalities are making laws against doing anything other than driving while you’re, well, driving! Myth #2: Everybody does it. Not so. Just because texting and driving accidents, for instance, are a prevalent problem doesn’t mean everyone engages in distracted driving behaviors. Be sure to take the proper precautions while on the road. This is not only to protect others, but you as well. Myth #3: A couple of seconds won’t hurt. You don’t have to be distracted for several minutes to cause an accident. A fraction of a second is all it takes for terrible, avoidable crashes to cause severe injuries – or destroy lives. Myth #4: You can safely multitask while driving. Despite the focus on multitasking in our present culture, many studies have shown that human beings are, in fact, very bad at it. Without your full concentration, you will likely perform simultaneous tasks poorly. And if there’s one task that demands and deserves your complete attention, it’s operating a 4,000-pound car. Myth #5: You can’t be held liable in an accident. In many states, distracted driving is considered a form of reckless driving, which can be prosecuted. But another thing to bear in mind is that prosecution is just the criminal side of it. You can also have a civil lawsuit brought against you for any harm you cause. You may end up paying for damages, injuries, or even a wrongful death. Make no mistake about it: distracted driving is a bad, bad idea. Don’t take the chance; put down your phone, makeup, or fast-food purchase and arrive at your destination safely. Talk to an experienced Clearwater car accident lawyer Were you injured because someone fell prey to these distracted driving myths? If so, our firm may be able to help.  Contact Abrahamson & Uiterwyk 24 hours a day / 7 days a week at 1-800-753-5203.  Call us today for a free evaluation.  

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Safety Tips for Elderly Drivers: Senior Citizens vs. Teenagers – A Study in Senior Driving Safety

Category: Car Accidents |

People are seniors at least twice in their life. People are “seniors” after their final year of education, and again in their mature years of life. Ironically, these two stages of life can represent very different stages of an individual’s driving career, with each respective stage involving very different concerns about driving capabilities. Comparing the Seniors (Citizens) and the Seniors (Teenagers) Unlike the cruising and hot-rodding teenager, senior citizen drivers bring a lifetime of driving experience and knowledge to the automobile table. Stability. Wisdom. Experience. Yet the other side of this coin involves physical and mental related changes that can also impact senior driving ability. The good news? There are several things senior citizens can do to heighten competence, awareness, and safety behind the wheel – and, perhaps to no one’s great surprise, it’s generally the opposite of what the other type of seniors (hereinafter referred to as “teenagers”) are doing! General Safe Senior Driving Tips Seniors: Avoid high traffic times, particularly the morning, lunch and evening commute shifts. Teens have time restrictions when they first start driving, primarily to avoid the nighttime hours. Seniors: Best to limit their trips to places closer to home. A great idea for seniors who typically travel to the same places, i.e., grocery store, church, pharmacy and friends’ homes. On the other hand, teenagers know no boundaries traveling everywhere on the search for, well, only they would know. Guidelines state that the standard distance between your vehicle and the car ahead is one car length per every 10 mph you’re traveling. (Example: 40 mph = follow four car lengths.) Increase this distance to compensate for slower reaction times, allowing ample space to brake safely or stop when necessary. Staying Alert Behind the Wheel Distractions are the cause or contributing factor in 25 to 50 percent of all collisions. Limit distracting noise inside the senior’s vehicle including radio, passenger conversation, and cellphone use. There is, however, not much we can do about teens who blast music so loudly that it is shared with the world – even when everyone’s windows are rolled up. Loss of hearing means a muting of all traffic sounds. Elderly drivers may experience this hearing decline due to physical aging; teenagers experience the loss with blaring music, cell phone talk and raucous passenger behavior. The latter group needs to compensate by turning everything down a notch or two. The elderly drivers can compensate with a hearing aid or through their vision – consciously watching in their rearview mirrors to check traffic flow while watching for the flashing lights of emergency vehicles. Visibility Issues to Consider Nighttime driving means more limited visibility for all drivers. Rising age eventually impacts reaction times. With both these factors in play, it may be more prudent for seniors to avoid nighttime driving as much as possible. For teens, they’re typically getting ready to go out when the rest of us are coming in. Some elderly drivers lose a little height with age. Be sure your driver’s seat is raised high enough for as clear a view of the road as possible. Sit on a small pillow if necessary. The same process should be followed by teens who would need additional assistance to have a clear view over their dashboard. Fair weather or not, always having your headlights on can be a good move as it increases your visibility to others. Drive on familiar streets. If traveling to an uncommon destination, use a GPS that verbally gives you directions as you drive. Reading directions or reading a map is another unneeded distraction that can contribute to car accidents and collisions. Keeping your windshield, headlights and mirror clean are simple and easy ways to improve driver visibility – for all ages. Keep windshield wiper blades in proper working condition. Nearly all car manufacturers recommend replacement every six months, but given Florida’s climate and precipitation, Trico, an online wiper blade store, maintains that replacement every nine to twelve months is sufficient. However, driving habits can also affect this timeframe. Periodic vision and hearing screenings are always a good idea but become even more important the older we get. Changes in sight and hearing become more dramatic, so shorten the time in-between screenings to keep up with any necessary adjustments. Once a Florida senior reaches 80 years of age, licenses are renewed every 6 years with a mandatory vision test at the Department of Motor Vehicles office. Consider Using Public Transportation Public transportation is a wonderful thing. It’s there when seniors become unsure of their driving abilities; it’s there when teens don’t yet have a car. Regardless, there are options for folks to get around town and good circumstances to exercise these options. Utilize Car Safety Features Florida redefines what it means to be hot, tempting car owners to tint windows for deflection of the sun’s intense rays. It is suggested that elderly drivers who have vision problems should keep window tinting to a lighter shade or not tint at all. Teenagers darken the windows in their cars to follow the latest trend. Seniors: Drive a car with an automatic transmission, if possible. With automatic transmissions, fewer things to attend to equals greater focus and alertness on other aspects of senior driving. In most cases, many teens won’t know how to use a manual transmission. Always wear a seat belt. It’s, the law. In Florida, all passengers in the front seat must wear a seat belt. Passengers in the back seat 18 and younger must wear a seat belt or otherwise be restraint by a child car seat. Drive Carefully in Inclement Weather The number of collisions goes up in inclement weather, which can be particularly treacherous for both seniors and teens. Whether rain, hail, snowstorms, ice or fog, poorer weather can greatly impair driver vision and hinder car performance. Throw in slower reaction times and driver inexperience, and it becomes safe to say that sometimes it’s just better to stay home to avoid hazardous conditions and courting disaster. Stay...

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