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State Neglects to Campaign against Distracted Driving Car Accidents in Florida

Florida is one of the few states left that has yet to enact a law to prohibit drivers from using a cell phone or text messaging behind the wheel, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration. Florida is lacking laws, lacking enforcement and lacking highway safety and it shows in the high rate of distracted driving related car accidents in Fort Lauderdale and elsewhere in the state.

A number of studies have proven that strict enforcement efforts of these types of laws drastically reduce the number of distracted driving accidents. According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Syracuse, New York, and Hartford, Connecticut, have both witnessed a drastic reduction in the number of these kinds of accidents after completing two pilot projects aimed at measuring the effect of increased law enforcement and high-profile public education campaigns.

Our Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys understand that drivers in our state pretty much have free reign when it comes to involving themselves in distractions while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were nearly 5,500 deaths on our roadways because of traffic accidents that involved a distracted driver last year. Another 500,000 people were injured in these incidents. As technology advances, so will the number of these accidents. Distracted driving car accidents accounted for nearly 20 percent of all of the reported traffic accidents in 2009.

“These findings show that strong laws, combined with highly-visible police enforcement, can significantly reduce dangerous texting and cell phone use behind the wheel,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Based on these results, it is crystal clear that those who try to minimize this dangerous behavior are making a serious error in judgment, especially when half a million people are injured and thousands more are killed in distracted driving accidents.”

Both of these states were able to conduct these pilot programs through federal funds of $200,000 and $100,000. The states increased both their police enforcement efforts and their news and media coverage to spread the word. These states used the “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other” campaign, which is a media campaign structured just like the national “Click It or Ticket” campaign.

“The success of these pilot programs clearly show that combining strong laws with strong enforcement can bring about a sea change in public attitudes and behavior,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “We applaud the work of the men and women of the Syracuse and Hartford police forces, and call on state legislatures, law enforcement and safety advocates across the nation to follow their lead.”

Florida took a shot at a media campaign to curb cell phone use by drivers back in 2009 by joining the efforts of the National Safety Council‘s “Death By Cellphone” campaign. Through this campaign, billboards were placed in 67 markets across 37 states. These billboards displayed safe driving message and people who had been killed in cellphone-related accidents, according to HCP Live.

Florida has not engaged in a similar campaign since. If Florida doesn’t enact a ban against cell phone use by drivers, our only hope may be to wait and hope for the Safe Driving Act of 2011 to pass, which is a proposed law that aims to make the banning of cell phone use a federal offense and no longer a responsibility of state government.

If you have been injured in a distracted driving accident in West Palm Beach, Margate, Miami or Fort Lauderdale, contact Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez to discuss your rights. For a free and confidential appointment call 1-800-529-2368.

More Blog Entries:

April Marks National Distracted Driving Awareness Month – Risk of Miami Car Accidents Increases with Distracted Driving, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, April 13, 2011

Decreased Number of Roadway Fatalities not to be Taken Lightly for West Palm Beach Car Accidents, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, April 9, 2011

No law against texting and driving leaves motorists at high risk of Fort Lauderdale car accidents, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, March 1, 2011

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