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Florida car accident lawyers urge parents to talk to teens about safe driving

A seatbelt could keep you out of an ambulanceTwo Fort Myers-area teenagers remain in critical condition at Lee Memorial Hospital and another has died following separate car accidents this week in Estero and Bonita Springs.

Florida injury lawyers at Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Personal Injury Lawyers, urge parents to have a comprehensive talk with their teenagers as the summer driving season gets underway.

The News-Press is reporting none of teenagers were wearing seat belts.

The truth is even more startling: The number one cause of death for young people ages 16 to 25 is car accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The reasons vary and include inexperience. But, in addition to the high number of local teens who apparently do not buckle up, statistics show teen drivers are also among the most distracted on the road.

Young drivers — already four times more likely to get into an accident — were twice as likely to use a cell phone while driving and more than six times more likely to text message while behind the wheel, according to a recent AAA study and a survey by FindLaw.

Florida’s new mandatory seatbelt law begins June 30 — for the first time, vehicles can be stopped and ticketed if the driver or front-seat passenger are not wearing seatbelts. Florida is joining 29 other states that have primary enforcement laws. Current Florida law only allows tickets if the driver has been stopped for another offense.

However, both laws allowed for drivers under 18 to be stopped and ticketed and both laws require anyone under 18, regardless of their position in the vehicle, to wear a seatbelt.

And yet, despite overall high compliance rates, the area’s statistics are not encouraging when it comes to teenagers.

In Florida, 81.7 percent of drivers wear them. In Lee County, 91.4 percent of drivers wear belts, the second-highest of 12 counties surveyed last week by the Florida Department of Transportation, according to The News-Press article.

Yet in 2007, 127 crashes occurred in Lee that involved drivers ages 15 to 21. Sixty-two percent of them were not belted, according to Jay Anderson, executive director of Stay Alive ….. Just Drive!

In 2006, he said, 233 crashes involved 15- to 21-year-old drivers in Lee County, and 82 percent were not buckled up. The collisions resulted in the deaths of eight people, seven of whom weren’t belted.

So talk to your kids about comprehensive driving safety. And consider enrolling them in a safe-driving program or even taking the program with them.

Locally, Lee Memorial Health Systems routinely offers a free young-driver’s seminar to teenagers and/or their parents. The next course is available on July 28 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Lee Memorial Hospital on Cleveland Avenue in Fort Myers. Enter through the emergency room and follow the signs to the auditorium. Those wanting more information can call Syndi Bultman (239) 336-6797.

If you or someone you love has been in a car accident, there are things you can do to help protect your rights. The car accident attorneys at Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Personal Injury Lawyers, offer free appointments to discuss your case at offices located throughout Southwest Florida, including Fort Myers, Naples, Cape Coral, Port Charlotte, Sebring and Venice.