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Articles Posted in Distracted Driving

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The purpose of this initiative by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is to promote safe driving practices.

Much of distracted driving centers on cellphone use while driving. Texting and talking on the phone while driving is a huge issue among all age groups, but especially teen drivers. People might think they are capable of driving while texting, but the truth is they are paying more attention to their phone than the road. Even hands-free options are not 100 percent distraction free – people can get more involved in their conversation than the main task at hand. If talking or texting on your phone is something you do, try keeping your phone in the back seat when you are driving. You will be less tempted to grab it at red lights or mess with it while sitting in traffic.

Cell phones are not the only distraction to drivers, people can be distracted by eating, drinking, and even other passengers. While fast food was sort of invented for people on the run, there is no way to stay focused on the road when you are unwrapping a burger or shovelling french fries in your mouth. Most drivers also fail to realize how distracting other passengers can be – screaming kids, rambunctious teens, etc. can all take your attention off the road. In these types of situations, it is actually best to pull the car over and handle whatever you need.

Distracted driving is a major problem on Florida roads, resulting in accidents, injuries, and deaths. According to the the NHTSA, 3,129 people were killed distracted driving accidents in 2014.

Distractions take your eyes off the road, hands off the steering wheel, and your mind away from driving. Distracted driving leads to serious injuries and sometimes, death.

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If a new bill becomes law, you might find yourself in jail for texting and walking in New Jersey.

Last week, New Jersey Legislature introduced a measure that would outlaw texting while walking. If it passes, the penalty could be a $50 fine, 15 days in jail or both.

New Jersey already has a distracted driving ban, violations of which can cost offenders up to $400 for the first infraction. Expanding the ban to walking would increase the state’s traffic safety laws even more.

Studies have found that texting can turn the simple act of walking into something much more perilous. Accidents related to distracted walking have jumped 35 percent since 2010, according to reports from CBS.

According to research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, people texting while crossing the road are twice as likely to be hit by a car than people talking on their phones.

Distracted walking can be as deadly as distracted driving, according to recent reports. So the question is how can you stop people from using their cellular devices for music, conversations, reading emails and texts, and sending emails and texts while walking? New Jersey is hoping to put an end to the distracted walking by getting government involved, but others disagree and feel that personal responsibility should be emphasized.

There are not enough police officers to be at every intersection to fine or arrest every single person who is texting while crossing the street, so it is up to each individual to behave  responsibly and to encourage everyone else to do so as well. This is more than just a courtesy reminder, it could very well be a matter of life and death.

At this time, Florida does not have any new bills similar to New Jersey’s that could soon be law. However, if the bill does pass and become law, we may see more states following with similar rules, especially if the number of injuries and deaths decrease. Only time will tell for now.

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Uber is facing a lawsuit after one of its drivers crashed while leaving a hotel in Miami Beach.

This collision caused massive brain damage to a nurse visiting from South Carolina.

The lawsuit is the latest against ride-sharing services involved in traffic crashes in Miami-Dade, and comes as the county commission is considering legislation to regulate the business of Uber and its smaller competitor, Lyft.

The suit was filed by the nurse and her husband who were in town for a medical conference back in December. That afternoon, the couple used Uber for a ride from a driver who drove a 2009 Nissan Murano.

According to a police report and the lawsuit, the driver crashed into another car immediately after turning into traffic along Collins Avenue after leaving the hotel. She was cited for failing to yield to oncoming traffic.

The nurse, who specializes in the administration of anesthesia, suffered injuries to her brain and has undergone several surgeries. The nurse’s husband broke his leg in the crash.

According to reports, for now, the woman must wear a helmet to protect her skull before another surgery scheduled later this month.

The popularity of Uber and Lyft – which contract with drivers who use a smartphone app to accept requests for rides – have definitely increased in South Florida and across the country in recent years. However, this is not the first lawsuit that has come up regarding the rideshare apps.

The nurse’s lawsuit is at least the third against a ride-sharing service involved in a crash in the past six months. Each of these cases centers on drivers paying attention to their smart phones, and not the road.

In January, Uber was sued by the relatives of a Miami-Dade College student who was killed in a crash in Kendall. The Uber driver was not faulted in the crash.

Back in November, Lyft was slapped with a lawsuit by the family of a 29-year-old who was thrown off his motorcycle and killed after a crash with a ride-sharing driver in Wynwood.

In the nurse’s suit, the lawsuit alleges Uber failed to realize that the driver “was not qualified, had not received sufficient training and was not being supervised” properly.

The rise in popularity of Uber, as well as Lyft, has spurred much controversy from taxi drivers as local governments have struggled with how to legalize the operations. Miami-Dade county regulators say Uber drivers violate for-hire rules, but the popularity of the service has put enormous pressure on commissioners.

Both companies require a good amount of part-time drivers to provide both the blanket coverage and competitive rates that have made the services so popular.

Broward County initially required fingerprinting drivers, but backed after both Uber and Lyft made threats to leave the market last summer. By the fall, Broward had adopted legislation pushed by the companies.

After a Michigan Uber driver was arrested and charged with fatally shooting six people, Miami-Dade commissioners have threatened to impose a fingerprint requirement. The commission will vote in May.

It will be interesting to see how this suit plays out in the court system as it is likely that this issue will to continue to be a problem.

Remember, if you have been injured or have lost someone you care for as a direct result of someone else’s negligence or carelessness, our South Florida Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melto are ready and able to assist you with your case. Your personal injury and wrongful death consultations are free of charge, and we are always happy to discuss what we can do for you.

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The death toll on U.S. highways rose 8.1 percent in the first half of 2015.

According to new figures from the Transportation Department, low fuel prices have contributed to a jump in miles driven by Americans.

The preliminary figures represent a “troubling departure” from a general downward trend over the past decade, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a report released Tuesday.

In 2014, the fatality rate hit an all-time low.

Americans drove about 51.9 billion miles more in the first half of 2015 than the same period last year, which equates to about a 3.5 percent increase, according to the NHTSA. Job growth and low fuel prices also may be factors in the sudden, unexpected surge in highway fatalities, the agency said. There was also more leisure travel and driving by young people, which can contribute to higher fatality rates.

The sad news is that the death rate also increased. Fatalities per million vehicle-miles driven rose in the first half of 2015 was 1.06 percent, or 4.4 percent higher than the same period in 2014.

In final figures for 2014, 32,675 people died in U.S. motor-vehicle crashes, a 0.1 percent decline from 2013. The fatality rate declined to 1.07 deaths per million vehicle-miles traveled, which was a record low for a complete year.

States in the Southeast — Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee — saw a 15 percent increase in fatalities. The second highest increase, 11 percent, was recorded in a group of Western states: Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. California and Arizona saw no increase in fatalities, and the New England region saw an increase of 1 percent.

The biggest factors in traffic fatalities remain the lack of seatbelt use and drunk driving, according to reports. Nearly half of all people killed in road crashes do not wear seat belts, and one-third of all fatalities are in crashes involve intoxicated drivers.

Distracted driving accounted for 3,179 deaths in 2014, about 10 percent of the total. Drowsy driving was involved in 2.6 percent of the fatalities.

States without mandatory motorcycle helmet laws saw a “far higher” number of fatalities than states with mandatory helmet laws, according to reports. There were 1,565 motorcycle deaths in 2014.

Bicyclist deaths declined by 2.3 percent, but pedestrian deaths rose by 3.1 percent from the previous year. In 2014, there were 726 cyclists and 4,884 pedestrians killed in motor vehicle crashes.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced October 18 through the 24th is Teen Driver Safety Week. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teens between the ages of 14 and 18 years old, and the NHTSA is hoping to raise awareness about the issues facing teen drivers and passengers.

During Teen Driver Safety Week, parents are highly encouraged to talk to their children about the “Five to Drive” rules and staying safe behind the wheel.

Teen Traffic Crash Statistics

  • In 2013, there were 2,614 teen drivers involved in fatal crashes.
  • Nearly one out of five teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking in 2013.
  • In 2013, almost one-third of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding.
  • 64 percent of all the young passengers of teen drivers who died in car crashes weren’t restrained in 2013.
  • 11 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2013 were reportedly distracted at the time of the crash.

Recent survey results show that only about 25 percent of parents have had a serious talk with their kids about the dangers that come along with driving. The NHTSA is urging parents to bring up the topic and discuss the key components of driving and the dangers facing their teen drivers.

Driver inexperience is not the only factor impacting teen drivers when they are behind the wheel. There are many added distractions for teens that can impact their safety- from texting while driving to extra peer passengers.

Teens can drastically reduce their chances of being involved in an injury causing or fatal crash by following the NHTSA’s  “Five to Drive” rules.

The Five to Drive

  1. No drinking and driving.
  2. All passengers always buckle up.
  3. Do not text and driver. EVER.
  4. Do not speed.
  5. Do not have more than one passenger in the vehicle at any time.

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Fireworks are definitely dangerous, but they are not the only dangers to avoid this Fourth of July weekend. The roadways are especially hazardous during the summer holidays. When you are traveling to or from an Independence Day party this year, please remember to be on the look out for reckless drivers.

Here are a few dangers to try and avoid this Fourth of July:

  • Drunk drivers. Think about it, almost every Florida Independence Day celebration will have alcohol. Partygoers who are drinking at parties and such should not get behind the wheel of a car. If you see a car weaving or dodging in and out of traffic, keep your distance. If you have a passenger with you, consider notifying authorities.
  • 4428561177_831c2f9269_zDrowsy Drivers. Many holiday drivers are travelling lengthy distances to get to their final destination. Those who have been driving for hours may be feeling fatigued. Drowsy driving is often as dangerous as drunk drivers, so stay alert.
  • Distracted Drivers. Keep in mind that many travelers on Florida roadways are from out of town and have never been to the area before. Taking your eyes off the road for just a few seconds to look at a navigation device can have devastating results. Avoid being a distracted driver by staying off your cell phone and having other passengers check your GPS or phone for you.
  • Speeding Drivers. People that are anxious to get where they are going may decide to speed or drive recklessly. Make sure you obey the posted speed limits and monitor your speed if there is heavy traffic.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has publicized their annual Distracted Driving Awareness safety campaign. The month of April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month so the NHTSA’s U Drive. U Text. U Pay. campaign will focus on the financial consequences and expenses of texting from the driver’s seat. The U Drive. U Text. U Pay. campaign has been funded by grants totaling up to $8.4 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation. This year’s slogan is “If you’re texting, you’re not driving.”

What’s the average time texting takes your eyes off the wheel? Five seconds. While that might not seem like a lot, if you are travelling at 55 miles per hour, that’s equivalent to driving the length of a football field blindfolded. You can’t drive and text. You’re either driving or you’re texting. Even just reading a text message is enough to cause an accident resulting in an injury or fatality.

8598246170_a96656631a_z (1)Distracted Driving Key Facts

  • 3,154 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2013
  • An estimated 424,000 people were injured in accidents involving distracted drivers in 2013
  • 3,328 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2012
  • 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes are drivers in their 20s

Texting while driving has become an epidemic in Florida and across the nation. Drivers of all ages have been known to engage in distracting driving behaviors behind the wheel. The good news is that most states now have distracted driving laws. Law enforcement agencies will be enhancing enforcement efforts throughout the country this month in order to combat this nationwide epidemic.

What to Do After a Distracted Driving Crash

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The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study that has some pretty disturbing results. The study actually determined that more than half of all teen car crashes involve some type of driver distraction.

The results show that distracted driving is a factor in 58 percent of teen crashes. Nearly 6 out of every 10 moderate to severe accidents involving teens also involved some type of distraction behind the wheel.

9734368152_c231145c75_zThe most common distractions for teens are not surprising – interacting with other passengers and cell phone usage. The study analyzed around 1,700 dashboard camera videos. Researchers observed and recorded the behavior of the teen drivers in the moments leading up to the accidents.

The following facts were determined from the study:

  • 6 out of 10 teen accidents involve distracted driving.
  • 15 percent of those crashes involved drivers interacting with one or more passenger.
  • 12 percent of those collisions involved cell phone usage.
  • 10 percent of those wrecks involved looking at something in the vehicle.

Teens that were found to be using their cell phones were said to have taken their eyes off the road for about 4.1 seconds out of the final 6 seconds leading to a crash.

Distracted driving is an epidemic involving teen and adult drivers across the country. AAA reports that teen drivers have the highest crash rate of any other driver age group.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has established a set of guidelines called “5 to Drive” in order to attempt to combat the teen distracted driving problem.

  1. No Cell Phones
  2. No Extra Passengers
  3. No Speeding
  4. No Alcohol
  5. Always Buckle Up

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As deadly collisions continue to occur throughout the state of Florida, it is quite fitting that citizens of Florida should want answers. While there is not just one answer for the reason why deadly crashes occur, there is some insightful information available on motor vehicle accident causes across the state.

52824625_f3596d1065_z (1)Top Causes for Crashes

  • Distracted Driving
  • Speeding
  • Road Rage
  • Impaired Driving
  • Fatigue

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the top causes of auto accidents in the state of Florida. From texting, talking on the phone, applying makeup, eating or engaging in any other manual, visual and cognitive non-driving tasks while behind the wheel, distracted driving puts Floridians in danger.


Speeding is another top cause of motor vehicle collisions in Florida. Going too fast on the roadways can lead to serious injury as well as death. An increase in speed can lead to an increased risk of causing a serious traffic accident.

Road Rage

Aggressive driving maneuvers like tailgating and cutting off cars is another reason why so many auto accidents occur in Florida. Aggressive driving is a form of road rage, and can also include risky behaviors like improper signaling and swerving in and out of lanes.

Impaired Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs also leads to lethal accidents on Florida roadways. While the FHP and local law enforcement agencies have been ramping up their efforts to crackdown on drunk drivers, impaired driving collisions are still happening in Florida.


Fatigue is also a major cause for concern when it comes to car crashes. When a driver is drowsy or sleepy, he or she is not likely to make good decisions behind the wheel. It is vital to be alert when driving any distance. Drowsy driving can easily lead to a serious collision in just the blink of an eye.

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According to Clay County deputies, a motorcyclist who was speeding in a Fleming Island neighborhood when he struck and killed a skateboarder last August, turned himself in Thursday morning.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office claims that the 27-year-old was riding his motorcycle under the influence and going over 70 mph in a 30mph zone early the morning of Aug. 2 when he struck and killed the 23-year-old man on Bald Eagle Road.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

The biker was airlifted to UF Health Jacksonville, where he recovered.

1164982485_9843d32a30_zAccording to the Florida Highway Patrol, the man’s blood test indicated his blood-alcohol was 0.089 and 0.091, which is above the state limit.

The man’s driving record includes 27 citations, four for speeding, three for careless driving and two for reckless driving. He was also arrested once before for DUI.

The man apparently surrendered to deputies at the Sheriff’s Office on charges of vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter. He posted $15,006 bond and is currently out of jail.

An impaired motorcyclist is a very dangerous combination. Motorists who operate vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol are at a severe disadvantage as these can hinder one’s ability to perform functions normally. Motorcyclists under the influence of drugs or alcohol have slower reaction times, may experience difficulty focusing on the roads as well as have trouble balancing, all of which can significantly increase the likelihood of a motor vehicle collision.

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