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Report shows dramatic spike in distraction-related pedestrian deaths

Pedestrians are often overlooked in conversations about distracted driving, but they are increasingly the victims of this dangerous epidemic.
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    February 13, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Report shows dramatic spike in distraction-related pedestrian deaths

A recent report shows pedestrian deaths caused by distracted driving have been rising sharply despite steady improvements in other areas of transportation safety. To help combat the widespread problem of distracted driving, Florida recently passed a ban on texting while driving -- one of the fastest-growing forms of distraction among U.S. drivers.

According to a report published recently in Public Health Reports, the number of fatal, distraction-related pedestrian accidents rose from 344 in 2005 to 500 in 2010 -- an increase of nearly 50 percent. The number of bicyclists killed by distracted drivers also rose substantially during that period, increasing from 56 to 73, or 30 percent.

The study's author, Fernando Wilson, PhD, of the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health, says that distracted driving is a major problem in the U.S. partially because there is relatively little social stigma associated with the habit compared to other traffic safety risks, according to a UNMC press release. Another challenge in combating distracted driving, Wilson says, is that the laws limiting distracted driving can be difficult to enforce and are not always particularly strict.

Florida's texting ban too weak, critics say

In Florida, for instance, some traffic safety advocates have criticized the new distracted driving law for not going far enough in its efforts to crack down on texting while driving. Under the Florida texting ban, violators can be ticketed only if they have already been stopped for some other traffic violation, like speeding. This is what is known as a secondary enforcement law. In contrast, a number of other states have primary enforcement texting bans, which permit police officers to stop drivers specifically for texting, even if they have not violated any other law.

Some critics of the Florida texting law also take issue with its relatively narrow definition of texting while driving. While many states prohibit texting at any time while operating a motor vehicle, the Florida ban does not prevent drivers from sending or receiving text messages while the vehicle is stopped at a red light. Safety advocates also say that the penalties for texting while driving in Florida are not severe enough to act as a deterrent; under the new Florida law, people ticketed for texting while driving can be fined $30.

Get legal advice for distracted driving injuries

In 2012, there were more than 4,500 traffic accidents in Florida caused by drivers who were distracted by cellphones or other electronic devices. People who have been hurt in a crash with a distracted driver in Florida may wish to contact a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to learn about their right to pursue financial compensation for the medical bills, lost income and other damages they have sustained because of the crash.

Article provided by Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A.
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