Distracted Driving is Claiming Lives

Distracted Driving is Claiming Lives

By: Mike Vasilinda
April 19, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- More than 39,000 people were injured in Florida last year after being involved in a distracted driving crash. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and distracted driving is claiming almost one life a day in the Sunshine State.

There were more than 45,000 crashes caused by distracted drivers last year in Florida. 214 people died. Of the dead, 198 were drivers.

Sgt. Kim Montes, FHP Spokesperson, says one death is one too many.

“That’s a preventable crash. If someone is distracted and they cause a crash, that’s something preventable, almost like DUI.”

Yet, since Florida’s ban on texting while driving went into effect a year and a half ago, police have issued just 3,400 citations, in part because texting is only a secondary offense, which means motorists must first have been stopped for some other violation.

“We know that the numbers don’t actually reflect what’s going on out there, because more people are doing it. It’s hard to prove in a lot of these crashes,” says Montes.

We saw dozens of people texting in a 45 minute drive around the state capital, but catching them on camera was difficult.

The good news: we saw a lot more hands on steering wheels than on cell phones.

One in seven drivers admitted to Virginia Tech researchers to texting while driving. 46 percent of the 16 and 17 year olds say they text behind the wheel, while 48 percent of 18 to 24 year olds admit to violating anti-texting laws.

“They don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” says Montes, “until an emergency happens. Until that car pulls out in front of you; a motorcycle pulls out in front of you.”

Five texting bills, including primary enforcement, were introduced in the 2016 legislative session. Not one of them got a hearing.

Original Article: http://www.wctv.tv/home/headlines/Distracted-Driving-Claiming-Lives-376271741.html