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Summit aims to reduce risk of distracted driving car accidents in Fort Lauderdale and elsewhere

The stories of distracted driving fatalities are as heartbreaking as they are endless. One young couple was Disney-bound, where they were scheduled to meet with the bride-to-be’s parents and their wedding planner. It was early 2008. Their car was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer, allegedly driven by a texting driver. He never touched his brakes. She died at the scene.

Our Fort Lauderdale Florida car accident lawyers know that distracted driving kills. As we’ve reported in an earlier post to our South Florida Injury Lawyer blog, just among teenage drivers alone, one in four admit to texting behind the wheel. In 2009, more than 16 percent of all fatal car accidents involved distracted drivers. More than 500,000 were injured and another 5,500 were killed in distracted-driving crashes nationwide.

Once again, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has hosted a distracted driving summit in Washington D.C. to address growing concerns regarding what has become an epidemic of handheld electronic devices being used by drivers behind the wheel. At the summit, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood spoke of a multi-layered approach to changing driver habits, involving tougher laws, stepped up enforcement, promoting public awareness and personal responsibility.

Thanks to efforts at the summit, both last year and this year, there is now a nationwide texting ban in place for commercial bus and truck drivers. Also, train operators are restricted from using cell phones or other electronic devices while conducting. And, the NHTSA is currently pushing for a complete ban involving use of any electronic device while operating a commercial truck transporting hazardous materials.

In tandem with the NHTSA efforts, both the entertainment industry and state lawmakers have joined forces to raise awareness and restrict usage of handheld electronics while behind the wheel. The National Football League, the Jonas Brothers, Allstate Insurance, Oprah Winfrey and even Webster’ Dictionary, which named “distracted driving” their Word of the Year – each organization aggressively promoted an anti-technology message.

More than 270 distracted driving bills were discussed in 43 state legislatures. Currently, 30 states have banned texting while driving and 8 have banned the use of handheld electronic devices. Even Pres. Obama and the United Nations have joined the act – Obama banned 4 million federal employees from texting while driving and the U.N. enforced the same ban for their 40,000 member employees.

Florida is one of a dwindling number of states with no such law.

South Florida car accident attorneys at Freeman & Mallard have been successfully and aggressively representing car accident victims and their families in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Ft. Pierce /Port St. Lucie for years. Call us today to schedule a no-obligation appointment to discuss your case at 1-800-529-2368.

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