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Florida lawmakers target distracted driving

Many Ocala residents have probably heard about the recent fatal car crash involving Bruce Jenner. The former Olympic gold medalist and current reality television star made more recent headlines when his car was part of a chain reaction accident that lead to one woman’s death.

In many fatal accidents, like the one that Jenner was involved in, police investigators look at all of the evidence to try to determine the cause of the accident. This often means checking cellular phone records of the drivers involved in the accident. Any form of distracted driving is dangerous, and many states, including Florida, have been targeting the use of cell phones while driving in Florida.

Recently, the Criminal Justice Subcommittee of the Florida House of Representatives passed a bill that would impose felony vehicular homicide charges on anyone who causes a traffic death while using any wireless communication device, such as using cell phones while driving in Florida. Although the bill passed this first hurdle toward becoming state law, not all Florida lawmakers were completely on board with the legislation.

Dennis Baxley, a Representative from Ocala, wanted to see a broader proposal that targets all forms of distracted driving. He explained that many different forms of distracted driving can become fatal, not just texting or talking on the phone while driving.

Any time that a person’s negligence causes a fatal accident, the victim’s loved ones can file a wrongful death lawsuit for a variety damages. This is true regardless of whether the driver at fault was eating while driving, looking at their phone, intoxicated or doing anything else that may have caused the accident.

Driving is dangerous enough without distractions of using cell phones while driving in Florida. All drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles in a manner that does not unnecessarily endanger others on the road. However, when such an accident does occur, victims and their families should be prepared to fight to hold negligent parties accountable.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, “No ban, but using a phone and driving is on chopping block,” Michael Auslen, Feb. 11, 2015

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