Florida could outlaw cell phone use by distracted drivers in wake of fatal semi accident


Florida drivers could be banned from using cell phones or text messaging while driving if retired Fort Myers-area paramedic Jay Anderson succeeds in pushing a new law aimed at reducing serious and fatal traffic crashes on our roads.

“Stay Alive … Just Drive!”, an organization Anderson founded, was named the Outreach Effort of the Year by the Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition on the same day he learned a Fort Myers driver caused a five-car pile up because she was text messaging.

Anderson, whose organization is vocal in warning of the dangers of using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving, said the accident is yet another payment toward the growing cost of a serious problem.

Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Personal Injury Lawyers, which was named sponsor of the year by the injury prevention coalition but is not involved in the effort to push for the new law, urges motorists to pay attention to the road and put safety first.

“Heather’s Law”, named for 26-year-old Heather Hurd who died in January on U.S. 27 in a 10-car crash caused by a semi driver who was allegedly text messaging, began the lawmaking process this month when it was introduced by two state senators.

“It’s very, very sad and totally preventable,” said Anderson, of the crash, which claimed several lives and critically injured several others. He said Hurd was on her way to the wedding planner with her fiancĂ©. Her parents were waiting at the wedding planner when authorities arrived to inform them of the tragedy. “People need to accept it — these things are preventable. They are not accidents. Ninety percent of all crashes are the direct result of driver error.”

Anderson said the fact that this was a semi driver accused of text messaging shows distracted driving is not limited to any one segment of society.

“It’s becoming so obvious that I think it is making more people aware that it is a problem — you can sit at any intersection and look left or right and you are going to encounter someone on a cell phone,” Anderson said. “It encompasses all ages, from new drivers to people in their 80s.”

While only a small percentage of bills introduced into the lawmaking process each year actually become law, Anderson is optimistic that Florida will join five other states that he said currently ban cell phone use by drivers, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington, California and Washington, D.C.

“We are off to a good start and I think we have some great legislative support,” he said.

There are certain things you can do to help protect your rights if you are involved in a crash. For four decades, the car accident and trucking accident attorneys at Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Personal Injury Lawyers, have been representing Southwest Florida motorists and other victims of personal injury. The firm offers free appointments to discuss your case at any of its offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples, Arcadia, Port Charlotte, Venice and Sebring.

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