On November 29, 2020, a 49-year-old Brandon woman looked down to check her GPS, caused an accident that damaged 4 vehicles, and sent a state trooper to the hospital. According to the Florida Highway Patrol and the Tampa Bay Times, the woman struck the rear corner of a Mustang GT in an attempt to avoid hitting a disabled SUV and trailer straddling the shoulder and a travel lane.
While the woman was looking down, she failed to notice the SUV and other vehicles in front of her. When she swerved right to miss the SUV, she struck the Mustang, which was in use as an unmarked Highway Patrol vehicle and driven by a 37-year-old state trooper from Pinellas Park. The woman’s car flipped as a result of the collision, pushing the vehicles in front of her forward. The Mustang slid into the trailer behind the SUV, and another car was damaged in the accident.
Four passengers received minor injuries in the crash, and the state trooper driving the Mustang underwent treatment at a local hospital. The collision closed the westbound lanes of Gandy Boulevard (the Gandy Bridge) in St. Petersburg, FL for about 90 minutes.
Fortunately, the accident was not more serious.
Distracted Driving Kills
Each year, nearly 3,000 people lose their lives to distracted driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as:
“any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.”
While the NHTSA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agree that texting while driving is the ‘most alarming’ distracted driving behavior, the Tampa Bay car accident described above reveals the risks of using a GPS while driving. Again, “anything that takes your attention away from driving can be a distraction.”
Visual distractions take your eyes off the road, manual distractions require you to take your hands off the wheel, and cognitive distractions take your mind off safe driving. All these types of distraction are dangerous, but activities that combine all 3 (like texting and driving) are especially deadly. Looking down to read or send a text (or look at your GPS) at 55 mph is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
Let this local accident be a reminder to keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and your mind on the task of safe driving at all times.