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Proposed law would forbid teen drivers from using cell phones; fewer Fort Myers car accidents could result

The Sun-Sentinel reported that teens at a presentation in a Boca Raton high school auditorium gasp and jeered at the prospect of not being able to use a cell phone while driving.

But as our Fort Myers personal injury lawyers frequently report, Florida is woefully behind when it comes to addressing the issue of distracted driving among teenagers. Proposed new legislation, dubbed the Minor Traffic Safety Act, would do little more than bring the Sunshine State in line with most of the rest of the nation when it comes to limiting a young driver’s ability to use a phone while behind the wheel.
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Unfortunately, it would not address text messaging or cell phone use by adult drivers — something that is now illegal in 38 other states, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. As a result, distracted driving continues to be one of the leading causes of car accidents in Fort Myers, Naples and throughout South Florida.

Addressing teen driver distraction, however, is an important start. Teens are at high risk for nearly every poor driving habit, included distracted driving, drunk driving, speeding and riding with too many passengers in the vehicle. Health News Digest recently reported more than 681,000 motorists were involved in an accident with a teen driver in 2008.

The proposed law would ticket minors for sending text messages or talking on the cell phone while driving. The same rules would finally apply to school bus drivers — making Florida one of the last states in the nation to address distracted driving by bus drivers.

The bill would also limit the number of minors who can ride in a car with a teenage driver; a teen would be required to display a tag from their rear-view mirror, which would identify them as a minor.

The measure still needs to become law. Florida lawmakers have failed to act on a number of distracted driving measures during legislative sessions in recent years.

Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, is a law firm dedicated to representing accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout South Florida, including Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples, Port Charlotte and Sebring. Call for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. 1-800-283-2900.