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Distracted driving is a killer during height of tourism season in Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale

February, March and April marks high traffic season in Florida’ northerners will continue to migrate south to get out of the cold and snow that has hit the country so hard this winter season.

Florida roadways will continue to be packed with out-of-towners that become distracted because they are lost, or are late meeting someone, or have a car full of kids on vacation. These are examples of why Florida motorists need to be on high alert for the increase risk of Fort Lauderdale car accidents during the next few months.

Our West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers frequently report about the dangers of distracted driving but recently have been focusing on other topics regarding safety this time of year. Our series of topics include speeding, aggressive driving, drunk driving, teen and elderly drivers.

When traffic is congested these types of behaviors and drivers pose a threat to Florida roadways and increase the risk of motor vehicle crashes.

Distracted driving is considered to be among the most common, and most dangerous, driving behaviors — with talking or texting on your cell phone leading the list. State lawmakers are considering several bills that would ban texting while driving in Florida. According to Governors Highway Safety Association, Florida is one of few remaining states that haven’t passed some sort of texting or cell phone use ban on drivers.

Though not much attention is given, there are other forms of distraction. Essentially, drivers are considered distracted by anything that takes their eye off the road, their hands off the wheel, or their mind away from driving. Things like eating, conversing with other passengers, reading a map, or changing a radio station are also considered distractions while driving.

According to almost 5,500 people were killed and another 448,000 were injured in 2009 in distracted driving crashes in the United States. It was reported that 20% of injury crashes in 2009 were due to some sort of distraction by the driver. It is believed that reaction time diminishes substantially; equivalent to the reaction time of someone who is driving under the influence with a blood alcohol concentration of .08.

In 2009, the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle reported that March and April were two of the three deadliest months in Florida with regard to fatal crashes. March reported a total of 224 fatal crashes and April reported 214 which was only one crash behind the second most dangerous month of December. The report also indicated that over 1,500 injuries occurred in Florida in 2009 due to driver distraction behind the wheel.

Though distracted driving is becoming more of a concern in Florida and nationwide, it’s often cell phone use and texting that dominate the news about distracted drivers. Campaigns against distracted driving are often headliners these days as was the case in a recent article in Orlando Sentinel, which gave kudos to a student organization at UCF for winning the prestigious Law Enforcement Traffic Safety Award.

At the recent United Safety Council’s banquet in the late January, the UCF Student Government Association was awarded for their “Put Down Ur Cell Fone” campaign conducted late last year. Ironically, the student organization beat out some of Florida’s largest companies like Disney, Progress Energy, and Boeing Corporation to win the award.

Distracted driving among other things is a concern for Florida motorists, especially this time of year when the risk of a West Palm Beach car accident is greater due to highly populated roadways. Motorists are reminded to slow down and focus on the road in order to keep yourself and other drivers safer during high traffic season.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in West Palm Beach, Margate, Hollywood, Miami, Port St. Lucie or Fort Lauderdale, contact the Law Offices of Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez. Call toll free at 1-800-529-2368 to set up a free and confidential appointment.

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