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Distracted driving increases risk of Fort Lauderdale car accidents involving teens

Florida remains one of the few states that has not banned cell phone use or text messaging while driving, even though distracted driving is responsible for a growing number of car accidents in Fort Lauderdale and surrounding areas.

The National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) has grown to almost 40 national youth and youth-serving organizations since its initial meeting in 1994. Their members meet several times a year to discuss current programs and projects promoting youth safety, specifically highway traffic safety. They also collaborate with other groups to develop new programs.

Last month the Teen Distracted Driving Prevention Leadership Team headed to Washington to shadow traffic safety specialists. They attended U.S. Department of Transportation meetings with Ray LaHood to learn the best method to reach as many youths as possible about the dangers of cell phone use while driving.

The team consisted of members from 17 states. Members met with their Representatives and Senators to urge them to support traffic safety laws that would help to decrease teen driving crashes.

NOYS developed a toolkit to support AT&T’s documentary “The Last Text”. This documentary is part of AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign, urging consumers to use their products in a safe manner.

Not even a week ago the Crestview News Bulletin reported another tragic case of texting while driving. A promising Crestview High School student remains in critical condition with massive head injuries following a car crash. It appears the student was distracted, ran off the road, than over-compensated which caused her vehicle to flip several times.

Approximately 1.6 million car crashes were due to cell phone use in 2008 according to the National Safety Council. The likelihood of crashing is four times greater if you are using a cell phone while driving.

Talking or texting on a cell phone is not the only distracting activity that goes on behind the wheel. Smoking, grooming, having pets on your lap, eating & drinking and changing the radio station are all distractions that should be avoided while driving.

Even though Florida allows cell phone use by its motorist, late last year, the Florida Highway Patrol put their own policy in place banning hand held cell phone use by its troopers while on duty. Other Florida agencies are considering doing the same.

Freeman & Mallard is a law firm dedicated to representing accident victims in personal injury and car accident claims throughout Florida, including West Palm Beach, Margate, Port St. Lucie, and Coral Gables. Call 1-800-529-2368 for a free consultation.

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