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Reduce risk of car accidents from Fort Pierce to Fort Lauderdale: Put your cell phone down and drive in 2011

In light of the utter lack of action by state politicians, Floridians are increasingly banning together to reduce the risk of distracted driving car accidents in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Pierce and elsewhere in South Florida, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Our Port St. Lucie car accident attorneys are frequently called to fight for the rights of clients who are seriously injured or killed in car accidents in which distracted driving played a role. Text messaging and cell phone use are among the most common causes but eating, drinking, playing with the radio, talking to passengers and gawking at external distractions are also common causes of such preventable tragedies.

Nationwide, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates about 5,000 people are killed and more than 500,000 are injured each year in accidents caused by distracted driving. The Governors Highway Safety Association reports Florida is one of only a handful of states that have done nothing to outlaw text messaging, even by teen drivers who are already at high risk.

Thirty states have outlawed text messaging so far and eight others prevent all hand-held cell phone use. Not only have Florida lawmakers failed on this front, they are one of the few state legislatures in the nation that have passed a law preventing local cities from enacting their own ordinances to protect the public.

Meanwhile, Florida joins Texas and California as the three states with the most fatal accidents each year, including car accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents.

Those taking matters into their own hands include a South Florida congresswoman-elect, high school students, parents and a Boca Raton software company that makes PhoneGuard, an anti-texting app for smart phones. Even Disney has weighed in, announcing last month a ban on texting for all employees.

A study by the University of North Texas contends there were an estimated 16,000 deaths as a result of texting between 2002 and 2007. And the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in an injury accidents.

Teenagers are most at risk, with 9 in 10 engaging in some form of distracted driving. A separate study found that texting and driving can add 30 feet to the necessary stopping distance, compared to 15 feet for drinking and driving.

Don’t wait on the lawmakers, resolve to put your cell phone down and become a safer driver in 2011.

Freeman & Mallard is a Hollywood, Florida 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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