In a video caught by a Fort Myers police dashboard camera, a car is seen swerving, veering over the divider lane, travelling at unsteady slow to quicker speeds, unnecessarily applying the brakes, running over the curb, and eventually hitting a telephone pole and a tree before flipping upside down. Miraculously, the man crawled from the wreckage unharmed.
The driver appears to be drunk in the video, posted by the Daily News earlier this year. However, he was not drinking — he was texting. Although texting behind the wheel does not carry the same criminal penalties or the social stigma as drunk driving, the video illustrates the similar way that texting impairs drivers.
The research is conclusive: distracted driving is deadly. Distraction.gov presents some harrowing facts and figures:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that in 2011, distracted driving played a role in 10 percent of fatal crashes and 17 percent of injury crashes.
In 2010, 3,092 people were killed in distracted driving crashes. In 2011, 3,360 people were killed. In 2012, that number rose to 3,328.
Thousands more people are injured in distracted driving accidents — amounting to approximately 416,000 injuries in 2010, 387,000 in 2011 and 421,000 in 2012.
The NHTSA reports that 27 percent of the distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes are in their 20s.
Approximately 10 percent of drivers younger than 20 years old who were involved in fatal accidents were found to be distracted.
According to a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study, text messaging behind the wheel makes crashes 23 times more likely to occur.
Florida laws ban texting while driving for all drivers. However, many drivers believe they won’t get caught. Unfortunately, their unlawful actions may only be discovered after a serious accident occurs.
The driver in the video received traffic tickets for texting while driving and reckless driving. In addition, his car sustained serious damage. He should, nonetheless, count himself lucky. He did not injure himself or another innocent motorist or pedestrian.