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In-car distractions common cause of Fort Lauderdale car accidents

The government is seeking help from the automakers in the fight against distracted driving, Reuters.

Despite having ownership in General Motors and Chrysler, the government is treading lightly in their request to manufacturers. Meanwhile, with each new model year comes more in-dash computers, satellite radios and GPS devices. Unfortunately, these ‘extras’ increase the risks of motor vehicle crashes when drivers get distracted trying to work the units.

Driving is difficult enough at times with all the exterior distractions causing West Palm Beach car accidents. Vehicles coming fully equipped with gadgets inside the vehicle only gives drivers more of an opportunity to get distracted.

Florida is one state who remains without any sort of distracted driving laws as detailed by Governors Highway Safety Association. There is no law against talking or texting on your cell phone while driving. Though only a handful of states have banned hand-held cell phones from all drivers, the majority have banned cell phone use for novice drivers under age 18.

Florida is not one of these states. There are 30 states that have banned text messaging for all drivers. All but 4 of these states consider it a primary offense– thus allowing drivers to be pulled over for that reason alone.

Some states allow specific localities to pass their own distracted driving laws. Florida is a state that prohibits localities from enacting such laws.

The most recent crash statistics seems to warrant the government’s concerns about distracted driving. Last September, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association announced there were 5,474 fatalities and 448,000 injuries in distracted-driving-related motor vehicle crashes in 2009.

Data showed cell phone usage was reported as a distraction in 18% (995) of these fatal crashes. For 2009, 16% of all fatal crashes reported distracted driving, as well as, 20% of injury crashes. In 2005, 10% of crashes were distraction-related.

Over the 5-year span from 2005-2009, the overall crashes were significantly lower (39,252 down to 30,797) but distraction-related crashes increased from 10% in 2005 to 16% in 2009.

Fatalities from distracted driving crashes were similar, increasing from 10% (4,472) in 2005 to 16% (5,474) in 2009.

In 2010, bills that would limit Florida drivers’ use of cell phones were rejected or ignored. State representatives in Florida have filed a distracted driving bill to be addressed in the upcoming March 2011 legislative session. The hope is to pass a bill that prohibits Florida drivers from texting, emailing, or instant messaging while behind the wheel.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident in West Palm Beach, Margate, Coral Gables, or Port St. Lucie, contact the Law Offices of Dean H. Freeman for assistance. For a free appointment to discuss your case, call 1-800-529-2368.

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