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Understanding the importance of distracted driving protections

While a number of states have penalties associated with distracted driving, Florida does not yet have any. There has been some concern that there is not enough political will to change the laws. One local news agency recently accepted a challenge from lawmakers who wanted to see more objective evidence that distracted driving laws actually improve traffic safety.

The numbers themselves are fairly convincing. In one study, the American Journal of Public Health reported that rates of hospitalization declined by 7 percent in states with texting and driving bans versus states without a texting and driving ban. In addition, states that enforced the texting while driving ban as a primary offense benefited, according to a study reviewing the years 2003 to 2010.

A different study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Heath looked at car accident fatalities from 48 states from 2000 to 2010. States that have primary enforcement laws for texting and driving saw deaths across all age groups reduced by 3 percent, which was an average reduction of 19 deaths per year. In addition, car accident fatalities declined by 11 percent in states with bans for younger drivers, that is those ages 15 to 21.

Distracted driving accidents can have serious consequences for victims and their families, and the dangers of distracted driving should not be underestimated. It is important to keep in mind that a distracted driver may be liable to compensate victims of distracted driving accidents for the harm they have caused. Harm that victims of distracted driving accidents may suffer can include medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering damages.

Though texting while driving has not been around forever, other forms of distracted driving are also equally dangerous, and legal protections are available to protect victims of distracted drivers in a variety of circumstances. Because of the potentially devastating consequences of a distracted driving accident, it is important for victims to be familiar with all of their legal rights following a distracted driving accident.

Source: ClickOrlando.com, "Florida lawmakers ask for data on distracted driving laws, Matt Austin delivers," Matt Austin, Feb. 8, 2017

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