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Distracted driving a primary cause of West Palm Beach car accidents

Distracted driving is a leading cause of West Palm Beach car accidents and traffic accidents throughout South Florida. Now, the National Safety Council has pulled together a report that compiles more than 30 studies looking at the dangers — giving us one of the first comprehensive looks into just how dangerous it has become.

Distracted driving joins alcohol and speeding as the leading causes of serious and fatal car accidents. As we reported on our South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, 1,169 people died in Florida drunk driving accidents in 2008.

Authorities continue to focus on the dangers of cell-phone use and text messaging while driving as a primary threat to motorist safety.

“Cell phone use while driving has become a serious public health threat,” said Janet Froetscher, NSC president and CEO. “Several states and municipalities have passed legislation allowing hands-free devices while driving. These laws give the false impression that hands-free phones are a safe alternative, when the evidence is clear they are not.”

Among the findings of the report:

-28 percent of all crashes in 2008 were the result of driver cell-phone use, leading to 1.6 million crashes and 645,000 injuries. Drivers who are on the phone are four times more likely to crash.

-11 percent of drivers are on the phone at any given point during the day. Eighty-one percent of motorists admit to using a cell phone while driving.

-18 percent of drivers admit to text messaging while driving. Teen (36 percent) and Gen Y (39 percent) drivers are the most likely offenders.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has established a distracted driving website aimed at educating motorists about the dangers. The government is particularly concerned about cell phone use and text messaging by drivers because it includes all three forms of driver distraction: visual, manual and cognitive.

Other forms of driver distraction include:
-Eating and drinking
-Talking to passengers
-Reading or looking at maps
-Using on-board electronics, including stereos and GPS devices

The government reports that using a cell phone, whether hands-free or hand-held, delays a driver’s reaction time as much as driving while intoxicated.

Freeman & Mallard is a personal injury and wrongful death law firm dedicated to helping motorists who have been injured in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and the Port St. Lucie/Fort Pierce areas. Call today for a free consultation. 1-800-529-2368.

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