Articles Posted in Distracted Driving


With the month of April wrapping up, our Florida Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton wanted to remind everyone about a few distracted driving tips that can help you stay safe on the roads.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its 2021 report on fatal crashes this month showing some startling statistics. In 2021, 3,522 people died in distracted driving crashes throughout the United States. In this same year, a total of 43,000 lives were taken in car crashes, a 10.5% increase from 2020. This is the largest percentage increase in car crash fatalities since 1975.

Distracted driving easily happens and can involve anything that causes drivers to avert their eyes from the road onto something else. The most common distracted driving behaviors we hear about involve cell phones or other electronic devices – making phone calls, sending/reading text messages, checking emails, scrolling through social media, playing games, watching videos, etc. These are all dangerous activities to do while driving as this increases your odds of becoming involved in a car crash.

Untitled-design-25-200x300There are also other distractions that can affect motorists while driving, including:  

  • Eating or drinking
  • Applying makeup or engaging in other personal grooming
  • Adjusting a car’s radio dials or fiddling with AC/Heat controls
  • Typing in GPS navigation directions
  • Reaching for objects on other seats or on floorboards
  • Daydreaming
  • Checking out billboards, buildings, other cars, pedestrians, bikers, etc.
  • Engaging in conversations with passengers in the vehicle
  • Trying to help children in the back seat with something
  • Jotting down a quick note
  • Reading a newspaper/magazine/book

The thing about driving is that motorists behind the wheel must be able to react quickly to what is happening around them. When drivers are distracted, they simply cannot do this. Any distracted driving behavior that takes your eyes off the road for a mere 5 seconds when traveling at 55 mph is the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed. If you are reading a text message and fail to see the driver in front of you has slowed down or stopped, then you could cause a rear-end crash.

The dangers of distracted driving only increase the faster the speed you are travelling. If you are on an interstate or highway and fail to notice an obstacle in your path, then you could wind up causing a dangerous pileup crash or even a rollover accident.

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A real estate data firm, Clever Real Estate, analyzed the cities with the best and worst drivers in the U.S. and discovered that three Florida cities rank in the top 5 in the country for worst drivers, earning Florida the top spot as the worst state for drivers.

Here are the top 5 rankings, according to analysis from Clever Real Estate:

  1. Jacksonville, FL
  2. Louisville, KY
  3. Orlando, FL
  4. Tampa, FL
  5. Nashville, TN

The study looked at various metrics to determine the cities with the worst drivers, such as yearly DUI-related traffic deaths, annual traffic-related fatalities, number of days of inclement weather, percentage of uninsured drivers in the area, average insurance premium costs in the area, Allstate’s best driver’s rankings, and the number of auto body repair shops in the area.

While Jacksonville took home the top spot for worst drivers, New York City has the best. Jacksonville has 2.9 DUI fatalities per 100,000 residents, which is 66% more than the average city for this study (1.7 per 100,000 residents). Jacksonville ranks number 7 in the U.S. for the highest number of DUI-related traffic fatalities. NYC, on the other hand, has only 0.6 DUI-related fatalities per 100,000 residents as well as very few driving fatalities in general each year (3.3 per 100,000 residents).

Jacksonville has 10.9 annual traffic-related deaths per 100,000 residents, which is 65% more than the average (6.6) of cities studied. Interstate 95 happens to run right through Jacksonville, and it is considered one of the deadliest Interstates in the U.S.

The high cost of car insurance in Florida means that there are a lot of drivers operating their vehicles without insurance. Average auto insurance premiums in Jacksonville are at $2,745. Orlando’s average insurance premiums are $2,698. Tampa’s average premiums are $3,459. This study found that 20.40% of drivers in Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa are uninsured, which is 54% higher than the national average of 13%.

Orlando sees about 130 days of precipitation every year and has 9.1 driving deaths per 100,000 residents annually, which is much higher than the average city, which has 6.6 traffic deaths per 100,000 residents.

JustDrive-1-200x300Tampa has 10 deadly traffic accidents per 100,000 residents annually, which is 51% more than the average city in the study.

There are various factors that account for the high number of traffic deaths in the state of Florida, but distracted driving is one major reason that these numbers continue to remain high each year. In 2020, Florida saw 215,000 distracted driving-related deaths, which was lower than previous years dating back to 2015 where the Sunshine State saw between 265,000-295,000 distracted driving-related fatalities.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, so it is important to refamiliarize yourself with safe driving practices and aim to limit the number of distractions in your vehicle. Our Florida Car Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton understand that some distractions are unavoidable for motorists, but you can do things to reduce these distractions, such as:

  • Input your destination into your GPS before you leave your driveway or street. Check your route ahead of time and turn on the voice guide so that you do not have to look down at your phone while driving.
  • Leave the personal grooming for at home, or at least when you are not driving. Applying makeup, fixing your hair, etc., are all things you should not do while operating a vehicle.
  • If you are listening to podcasts or music, then keep the volume moderate and make sure you keep your eyes on the road.
  • Do not eat or drink while operating a vehicle.
  • Do not online shop, play games, scroll through social media, text, or use your cell phone at all while driving.
  • If you have passengers, you can engage in conversation, however, do not make important decisions or try to plan a big event while driving. Topics that require a lot of focus will cause your mind to wander away from the main task at hand – getting to and from your destination safely.

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Deputies believe a Deltona, Florida woman was killed, and her brother was injured, by a distracted driver who drove up on the sidewalk where they were walking their dog.

The crash occurred around noon on Sunday, April 2, 2023 in the city of Deltona.

Reports indicate that the driver, a 67-year-old man, driving a BMW convertible became distracted after a bag fell between his legs.

Deputies allege that when he reached down to retrieve the bag, he swerved across the center line, cruised through the opposite lane of traffic, and ultimately landed upon the sidewalk. He hit both the woman and her brother.

The convertible came to a stop after striking a large rock.

The woman, 68, was pronounced dead at the scene. The brother, 55, was taken to a nearby hospital in stable condition.

The dog was not harmed, according to reports.

The driver of the convertible was not harmed, but a passenger in the vehicle suffered minor injuries, according to reports.

It is not believed at this time that the man was operating his vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Charges are pending while an investigation into the crash continues.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Our Florida Car Accident Injury and Wrongful Death Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want to make sure you are doing everything you can to not fall victim to distractions when behind the wheel. Staying focused to keeping your eyes on the road in front of you is the key to arriving to your destination safely.

Below you will find 10 Tips for Preventing Distractions while Driving:

  1. If you cannot focus all your attention to driving because of another activity (texting, eating a sandwich, drinking a coffee, etc.), then this is a distraction. It is best to take care of this before you leave or after you arrive to wherever you are going, not while you are driving.
  2. If while driving, another activity demands your attention (your child’s school calls and needs to speak with you, your boss needs to go over something, you are lost and need to use GPS to figure out where you are, etc.), then pull over to a safe spot and handle your matter, but do not attempt to do so while driving.
  3. Untitled-design-23-200x300If you have passengers with you that can help limit distractions, then utilize their assistance. Make them your designated caller/texter/navigator.
  4. Put away your electronic devices that could tempt you so that they are not in reaching distance. You should never text, scroll through social media, play video games, etc. while driving. Place your devices in the trunk, back seat, glove box, or anywhere else that you will not be able to get to them until you reach your destination.
  5. Children and pets in the car can be a distraction. If they need your assistance while driving, then pull over to a safe place and park. Reaching in the backseat while you are driving can cause you to lose control of your car and lead to a crash.
  6. Eat snacks and drink beverages before you head out on a trip. Looking down to grab a snack that fell can lead to a serious collision.
  7. Finish getting dressed, applying makeup, and all other personal grooming before you head out to wherever you are going.
  8. Map out your traffic route before you start driving. You should set up GPS and radio dials before hitting the road.
  9. Keep any items that you need in your car secure so that they are not rolling around on the floor as you may be tempted to reach for them, which can cause you to lose control of your car.
  10. Keep your full attention on the road in front of you – watch out for other cars, pedestrians, cyclists, children, etc. Some distractions are impossible to avoid while driving, but they must be managed so that you can focus your efforts on driving.

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April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and our Florida Car Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want to remind you to put your cellphone down and focus on the primary task at hand – just drive. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) urges everyone to pledge their commitment to refrain from distractions behind the wheel by using social media to spread the word – #JustDrive.

We want everyone to be aware of the deadly epidemic that is happening on not just Florida’s roads, but nationwide. Distracted driving was responsible for the deaths of 3,522 people in 2021. From 2012-2021 it is estimated that 32,000 + lives have been lost due to distracted driving. With that said, this month is a great time to regroup and recommit to avoiding distractions when behind the wheel. Cell phone use is the most common form of distracted driving, specifically, social media use, talking, and texting. Other risky behaviors include eating, drinking, applying makeup, and adjusting radio dials or GPS systems.

JustDrive-200x300Our Florida Car Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton urge you to drive responsibly and follow these tips for a safe ride:


Distracted driving is a huge issue across the United States. Texting while driving is the riskiest of the distracted driving behaviors, but other distractions include applying makeup, adjusting the radio, drinking coffee, and talking on your phone. When you allow distractions to take over your train of thought when you are behind the wheel, you rob yourself of those few seconds that you may need to avoid a close call or a deadly accident. 

This was the case of Liz Marks. Like most of us, she always had her phone close by, and thought texting while driving was no big deal because everyone does it. Sadly, she learned just how big of a deal texting while driving can be. While she survived, she now has life altering injuries that will affect her for the rest of her life. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving accounted for 2,841 lives in 2018. Here is the breakdown of those killed: 1,730 drivers, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians and 77 bicyclists. The NHTSA leads the national effort to save lives by preventing distracted driving. That is why this April, as part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the NHTSA is teaming up with State and local law enforcement to save lives and make our roads safer by combating distracted driving through their U Drive. U Text. U Pay. campaign. They are working together, along with road safety organizations and advocates, to remind Americans that distracted driving can result in costly consequences. From April 11 to 15, law enforcement will also be making a special effort to identify and ticket anyone who insists on risking their safety and that of others by driving distracted.

Our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton fully support the NHTSA’s mission to put a stop to distracted driving. We want everyone to take National Distracted Driving Awareness Month as a time to regroup and take responsibility for making safe choices every time we get behind the wheel. The NHTSA recommends the following safety tips to get to and from your destinations safe and sound: 

  • If you need to send or read a text message, pull over and park your car in a safe location. This is the only time it is safe to send or read a text.
  • Make your passenger be your “designated texter.” Give them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
  • Just like texting and driving is dangerous, so is engaging in social media. Like Liz Marks, many of us struggle with texting and driving. Our cell-phone use can be habit forming, so if you cannot put the phone down, then put it somewhere you cannot access it while driving. You can put your phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of the vehicle until you arrive at your destination.

Florida Wireless Communications While Driving Law

Section 316.305, Florida Statutes allows law enforcement to stop motor vehicles and issue citations to motorists that are texting and driving. A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers or symbols into a wireless communications device to text, email and instant message.

Section 316.306, Florida Statutes, is a prohibition on using wireless communications devices in a handheld manner in school and work zones.  A person may not operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device in a handheld manner in a designated school crossing, school zone or active work zone area. Active work zone, as it pertains to Section 316.306, Florida Statutes, means that construction personnel are present or are operating equipment on the road or immediately adjacent to the work zone area.

Educate Others of the Dangers of Texting and Driving 

Please remind your friends and family that if they are driving, then their focus needs to be on the road. They should not be taking phone calls, texting, eating food, or doing anything else that distracts them from driving. 

  • If you are a passenger in a vehicle and your driver is texting or otherwise distracted, tell them to stop and focus on the road.
  • Ask your friends to join you in eliminating distractions while driving. While this may seem like a small effort, you could actually save a life.  
  • The NHTSA urges you to share your pledge on social media to spread the word—#JustDrive.

Our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are supporting the NHTSA this April, and throughout the year, to work together to spread this life saving message: U Drive. U Text. U Pay. 

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A new bill in Florida could ban drivers from putting on makeup, holding a cellphone, reading or performing other distracting activities. 

This falls under a new bill unanimously approved by a Senate committee Wednesday.

The Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee approved the measure after heart-wrenching testimony from parents whose children have been killed in accidents caused by distracted drivers.

Republican Sen. Wilton Simpson said distracted driving has become an epidemic in Florida, and not just involving cars hitting other cars.

“Bike riding, hiking, jogging — all of those things — we’ve had record numbers of deaths in this state by distracted driving,” Simpson said.

As it stands now, it is illegal to text and drive in Florida, but drivers can only be ticketed if they are first pulled over for another reason. Simpson’s bill would make distracted driving a primary offense, meaning law enforcement wouldn’t need another reason to ticket a driver. If enacted, Florida would ease into the law by creating a three-month period where law enforcement would only give warnings. After Dec. 1, police would be able to issue tickets.

Hands-free cell phone use would be allowed, and drivers would be able to check their phones as long as their cars aren’t moving, such as at a stop light or while idling in a parking lot.

Law enforcement officers would also have to record the race and ethnicity of ticketed drivers and an annual report would have to be given to the governor, House speaker and Senate president. Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy asked for that provision to be included due to concerns that a distracted driving ban could be used for racial profiling.

Several parents who lost children in accidents urged the committee to approve the bill. 

The Senate bill has been unanimously approved in its first two of four committee stops. A similar House bill hasn’t been heard in committee yet, but House sponsor Rep. Jackie Toledo said House Speaker Jose Oliva has promised it will get a hearing.

It is really no exaggeration to say that distracted driving is an epidemic, and not just in Florida, but throughout the U.S. With advancements in technology, we have seen an exponential increase in the number of drivers distracted by talking, texting or surfing the Internet while operating a car or truck. If you or a loved one has been injured in a distracted driving accident, our Florida Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help.

Distracted driving kills. Distracted driving resulted in 3,166 deaths in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Despite these alarming statistics, people throughout the state and country, especially the youngest and most inexperienced drivers, continue to endanger themselves, their passengers and other drivers sharing the roads by talking or texting while driving.

As car accident attorneys in Florida, we have seen far too many cases of serious injuries and death caused by distracted drivers. We are more than familiar with how to pursue claims for these injuries and deaths. We fight aggressively against negligent drivers and insurance companies that refuse to offer fair compensation for damages. While we strive to settle these cases through skilled negotiations, we are not afraid to take your case to trial if necessary. 

Distracted driving is defined as any action that can take a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. Text messaging is known as the most dangerous distraction, but there are others, such as: 

Talking on a cell phone 

  • Eating and drinking
  • Interacting with passengers
  • Personal grooming, like applying makeup 
  • Reading, including maps
  • Watching videos
  • Adjusting a radio or other audio player
  • Using a navigation system

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Driverless semi-trucks could be sharing Florida highways as early as next year, according to recent reports, and there will be no requirement that surrounding motorists know it.

These autonomous driving systems will not need to be tested, inspected, or certified before being deployed under a new state law that takes effect July 1.

Starsky Robotics, a San Francisco-based startup company that’s been testing its driverless trucking technology in Florida and Texas, has put out a call for job applicants who one day want to pilot big rigs remotely.

Starsky envisions its remote drivers logging onto computers in an office environment to take the reins of its trucks during the first and last miles of their long hauls.

That means the trucks will be on autopilot for the vast majority of their highway journeys.

Driverless deployments should begin in Florida by the end of 2020, Starsky says.

That’s much sooner than 2027, the year consulting firm McKinsey & Company projects fully driverless trucks will be ready to hit the highway.

On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill enacting the law in a ceremony at SunTrax, the state’s new autonomous vehicle testing track in Auburndale.

While the law will also open the door for ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft to deploy fleets for commuter use, DeSantis’ signing ceremony was staged in front of a Starsky-branded semi-truck.

Co-sponsored by Rep. Jason Fischer, a Duval County Republican, and Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, the new law replaces an existing one that required a human driver be present and able to take over driving chores in autonomous vehicles operating on public property for any other reason than testing.

Brandes, Fischer and other proponents of driverless vehicle technology say automated systems will make transportation safer by removing the potential for human error. Driverless technology proponents envision a day in the not-too-distant future in which most driving becomes automated, freeing commuters to stare into their smartphones or their dashboard video screens.

The safety requirements under the new state law are limited.

Companies will be allowed to deploy their systems with no state inspection or certification.

Owners of autonomous commercial vehicles will be required to carry at least as much liability insurance as the state requires for commercial vehicles driven by humans. Currently, that means a minimum level of $300,000 in combined bodily liability and property damage coverage for trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 44,000 pounds or more, and lesser amounts for lighter vehicles.

Autonomous vehicles used for “on-demand” networks must be covered for at least $1 million for death, bodily injury and property damage, the law states.

Autonomous vehicles also will be required to achieve what’s called “minimal risk condition” — such as coming to a complete stop and activating their hazard lights — if their operating systems fail.

Existing traffic laws requiring drivers to promptly notify law enforcement agencies of crashes and then remain on scene to provide information or render aid will be exempted if law enforcement is notified by a vehicle’s owner or by the vehicle’s automated system.

When asked how Starsky Robotics plans to assure Floridians of the safety of the company’s driverless trucks, Starsky founder and CEO Stefan Seltz-Axmacher said only that the company, founded in 2016, has been working with all relevant authorities, including the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Turnpike Authority, and those agencies’ federal counterparts.

The company has also developed a “Voluntary Safety Self-Assessment,” based on recommendations from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, that will guide how its vehicles will react to unforeseen circumstances.

Starsky this week launched a campaign titled “The future of driverless trucking is not driverless” to attract recruits willing to drive in its fleet of 36 traditional over-the-road rigs before — if they make the cut — transitioning to the autonomous truck side. Those drivers will work at a computer in a fixed location and go home to their families between shifts, the company said.

In Florida, the company will locate its remote drivers at its facility in Jacksonville, a spokeswoman said.

The company currently has three trucks capable of autonomous operation but expects to have up to 25 by next year as it begins removing human drivers. Florida will be among the first states where it will run driverless trucks.

The company completed a seven-mile driverless test on a closed-off rural road near Lake Okeechobee in February 2018. It expects to conduct another test sometime this year, Seltz-Axmacher said.

This new wave of autonomous trucks is propelled by the rapid growth of e-commerce, retailers such as Amazon are busy automating as much of their supply and delivery chains as possible, and shipping is a major cost component ripe for disruption, according to reports.

Keeping drivers on the road for a month at a time has become a huge problem for the trucking industry, where the turnover rate for at large carriers averaged 89 percent in 2018 — two points higher than the previous year, according to the American Trucking Association.

Consumers’ demand for cheap goods and cheap shipping costs means haulers want to pay truck drivers cheap wages. That contributes to a 60,000-driver shortage in the U.S.

Paying someone $50,000 to $60,000 a year isn’t enough to keep them behind the wheel of a truck for a month, so the logic to solving that is to remove a person from the cab entirely.

Florida is not just testing out driverless big rigs. In Clearwater Beach, they are testing out driverless buses. Orlando is testing out a small driverless bus that soon will maneuver around Lake Nona. Driverless shuttles could be cruising Bay Street in downtown Jacksonville very soon. And in just a few months, Gainesville residents will be among the first in the state to travel for free through their town in a driverless shuttle.

Driverless cars, buses, shuttles and semi-trucks are officially upon us and no longer just  a thing of the future. These autonomous vehicles have been designed with cameras, sensors, artificial intelligence and algorithms to replace human drivers and eliminate human error, which is one of the leading causes of truck accidents, car accidents and bus accidents across the country. The hope is for these driverless vehicles to operate safer than human drivers, who can become distracted, drunk and careless when behind the wheel.

Much like everything else, nothing is perfect and these driverless vehicles can absolutely find themselves involved in an untimely collision. This will bring a whole new wave of car accident lawsuits, and it will certainly be interesting to see how these claims play out. Just like regular auto accidents between human drivers, driverless motor vehicle crashes will require thorough investigations to determine liability.

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Florida’s new distracted driving law, or texting while driving, goes into effect July 1, and law enforcement agencies across the state are preparing for how they will enforce it.

As far as enforcing the rule, a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s spokesperson said it will be done on a case-by-case basis.

The Sheriff’s Office said texting violations will be treated like any other primary offense traffic violation.

Deputies expect challenges from drivers trying to find loopholes around getting a citation, because they exist.

According to officials, drivers can still use their GPS, look at weather or traffic alerts, or call in an emergency.

Traffic judges might see more work as a result.

Pinellas County Sheriff’s officials said their enforcement will go through an education period. They’ll give out a warning the first time.

But drivers better make changes, because getting pulled over multiple times for texting while driving will end up in a ticket.

A hands-free requirement while driving in school and work zones goes into effect in October.

Citations will not be handed out for this violation until January 1, 2020.

This new law that makes texting while driving a primary offense as opposed to a secondary offense is meant to curb dangerous and deadly behavior while behind the wheel. Distracted driving accounts for more teen deaths than drunk driving, and kills 9 people of all ages every day across the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Car crashes in Florida rose by 11 percent from 2013 to 2016, but collisions caused by problems stemming from distracted driving, like drifting out of a lane, sideswiping another car or simply blowing through a stop sign, increased by 40-50 percent.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a distracted driving accident, our Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can investigate your crash thoroughly and determine if the other driver involved in your accident was using their cellphone or otherwise driving while distracted. We will use this evidence to establish that the other driver was indeed at fault, which may result in a more favorable outcome when pursuing financial compensation.

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Holding your phone, putting on makeup or petting your dog while driving could all be illegal in Florida if state legislators pass a new bill that outlaws distracted driving.

Rep. Jackie Toledo and Sen. Wilton Simpson, who are sponsoring the legislation, contend Florida needs stricter laws for safer roads. They feel the best way to keep drivers and pedestrians safe is to eliminate distractions behind the wheel and put the focus back on driving.

“The focus of this bill is to save lives and get people’s behavior to change,” said Toledo, R-Tampa. “While you’re driving, you should be focused on driving.”

But opponents say the proposed law is too broad and raises concerns about racial profiling and unequal enforcement.

Currently, Florida drivers can hold a phone in their hands. But using one to text, write emails or send other messages is a secondary offense, meaning police officers must have another reason to pull someone over before they can issue a citation. They also need evidence that the driver was using the phone to send a message.

Toledo and Simpson, R-Trilby, filed bills that originally sought to make holding a cellphone while driving a primary offense. This would mean law enforcement would not need to prove an individual was writing a message.

But the legislation took a new direction in a Senate committee hearing last week. Senators on the Infrastructure and Security Committee decided to broaden the bills and target any action that distracts a driver.

The amended legislation lists several tasks that would be illegal while behind the wheel: reading, writing, performing personal grooming, applying a beauty aid or similar products, interacting with pets or unsecured cargo, and using a “personal wireless communications device” such as a cell phone.

The bill also includes a clause that could apply to any number of actions not listed: “engaging in any other activity, conduct, task, or action that causes distraction.”

That provision could be a problem, according to Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg.

“This gives law enforcement license to pull anyone over at any time for anything,” he said. “It’s completely subjective,” and would lead to uncertainty about what is and isn’t legal.

Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, signed on as a co-sponsor of the Senate bill when it dealt with cell phone use while driving. But he said the broader nature of the amendment makes him think twice about supporting it going forward.

“I understand the intent and purpose,” Rouson said. “But what creeps into this is what constitutes a distraction and can it open drivers up to profiling or discriminatory treatment based on culture or personal choice.”

Currently, Florida is one of three states that doesn’t allow law enforcement officers to pull drivers over just because they are on their cellphones. It is currently a secondary offense, meaning officers can cite drivers for texting only after stopping them for other reasons, such as speeding. The current offense brings a $30 fine, plus local add-on fees.

The bills, if passed, would give Florida some of the toughest laws against distracted driving in the nation.

Florida is one of the worst states in the country for distracted driving. According to the state department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were almost 50,000 crashes involving distracted drivers in Florida in 2016. This breaks down to more than five crashes every hour. These distracted driving crashes accounted for more than 3,500 serious injuries and 233 deaths.

Distracted drivers can cause severe accidents resulting in catastrophic injuries and even wrongful death. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, our Florida Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help.

We can investigate the cause of your crash and determine if the other driver involved was using their cellphone or engaging in other acts of distracted driving, like eating, applying makeup, or even tending to a pet. We can use this evidence to establish liability, with the hopes of obtaining financial compensation for your losses.

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A deadly Sunday crash that killed a cyclist and injured six others in South Florida is sadly the latest reminder about the dangers of distracted driving.

Investigators are still working to piece together what happened, and state lawmakers are continuing their push to strengthen Florida’s traffic laws in the hopes of making people safer on the road.

And it’s not just lawmakers calling for change. Families who have lost loved ones are joining in the effort, saying the laws don’t do enough to crack down on texting while driving.

Legislation has been trying to enhance existing laws since 2015, but concerns about racial profiling and potential privacy issues have put the brakes on any substantial change.

Under the latest proposal, drivers could still use cell phones for navigation. To talk on their phones, however, they would be required to use a hands-free device.

Last year, state Sen. Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville, now the Senate Minority Leader, suggested that moving to hands-free devices would erase concerns about racial profiling.

Keeping with current law, the legislation allows for cell phone records to be accessed in cases dealing with deal or physical injury. That could curb some of the privacy concerns voiced in years past.

Though this year’s version of the bill has not been assigned to any committees yet, lawmakers will return to Tallahassee in December for the first rounds of committee hearings.

On highways, interstates and roadways throughout Florida, drivers who allow distractions to interfere with their driving cause serious accidents that can lead to fatalities. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you don’t need to go through this difficult time on your own. Our Florida Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help.

We will investigate your case and determine if the other driver involved in your accident was using their cellphone or otherwise driving while distracted. We can use this evidence to establish liability, so that you can seek financial compensation for your losses.

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