Tampa Hosts Distracted Driving Summit
Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) December 20, 2012 - At Florida's first distracted-driving summit, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood called for Florida to enact legislation banning text messaging while driving, like 39 other states.
“Distracted driving is a factor in many auto accidents,” said Tampa personal injury attorney Robert Joyce, “and this particular factor is nearly always preventable.”
The event, hosted by USAA's Property and Casualty Group, drew car accident victims, law enforcement officers, and elected officials.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distraction was a factor in over 400,000 auto accidents in 2010 that claimed 3,092 lives. Of all crashes in 2010 that resulted in an injury, 18 percent were reported to be the result of distracted driving, and texting while driving increases the likelihood of crashing by a factor of 23 percent, according to the agency's website at distraction.gov.
As part of a program by the Florida Department of Transportation to reduce distracted-driving deaths, the state recently began compiling statistics on such incidents. But Florida, along with 10 other states, lacks laws prohibiting distracted driving. It also bans localities from enacting such laws.
State Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Delray Beach, proposed bills last year restricting cell phone use while driving, but legislators opposed the bills, saying they were reluctant to encroach on the rights of drivers.
LaHood said that Florida drivers need to take personal responsibility for safe driving and abstain from using cell phones while behind the wheel. He also urged Floridians to push state lawmakers to enact distracted-driving legislation.
“Regardless of legislation, drivers need to not only drive safely, but defensively,” added Mr. Joyce. “Even if you are not distracted, someone else on the road probably is.”
Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas are the 11 states lacking distracted driving laws.
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