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Distracted driving continuing peril on Florida roads

April was Distracted Driving Awareness Month in Florida and across the United States. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, nearly 50,000 car accidents in 2017 involved a driver who was in some way distracted from his or her driving duties. Although a lot of media and legislative attention focuses on the use of the electronic devices or texting while driving, distracted driving is anything that diverts a driver's attention from the safe operation of a vehicle.

What makes distracted driving particularly dangerous is that it can be momentary and is extremely difficult to enforce. Unlike a drunk driver, who may exhibit signs of impairment while driving, a distracted driver may be in full, competent control of a vehicle, then look away for a moment and cause a crash. Often, a distracted driver is not apparent until a traffic accident has already occurred.

Complicating enforcement in Florida is that fact that it is one of only a handful of states in which a law enforcement officer cannot pull over a driver only for texting and driving. There has to be another reason, such as speeding, before the driver can be pulled over and cited. This means that there is no legal basis for preventing an obviously-distracted driver from continuing on his or her way unless another law is broken.

Florida motorists, passengers, cyclists or pedestrians who have been injured in an accident that involved a distracted driver may be entitled to compensation for any injuries they suffered and/or any damages sustained by their property, as well as for expenses such as medical bills. Some distracted driving cases may be more difficult to prove than others. This is why it is crucial for the victims of distracted driving accidents to contact a lawyer with considerable experience handling such cases.

Source: Bay News 9, "Distracted driving year-round problem, FHP says," Melissa Eichman, April 25, 2018

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