Florida could outlaw all forms of distracted driving

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Florida could outlaw drivers from putting on makeup, holding a cellphone, reading or performing other distracting activities under a bill unanimously approved by a Senate committee.

The Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee approved the measure after heart-wrenching testimony from parents whose children that have been killed in accidents caused by districted drivers.

Republican Sen. Wilton Simpson said distracted driving has become an epidemic in Florida, and not just involving cars hitting other cars.

“Bike riding, hiking, jogging – all of those things – we’ve had record numbers of deaths in this state by distracted driving,” Simpson said.

Right now, it is illegal to text and drive in Florida, but drivers can only be ticketed if they are first pulled over for another reason. Simpson’s bill would make distracted driving a primary offense, meaning law enforcement wouldn’t need another reason to ticket a driver. If enacted, Florida would ease into the law by creating a three-month period where law enforcement would only give warnings. After Dec. 1, police would be able to issue tickets.

Hands-free cellphone use would be allowed, and drivers would be able to check their phones as long as their cars aren’t moving, such as at a stop light or while idling in a parking lot.

Law enforcement officers would also have to record the race and ethnicity of ticketed drivers and an annual report would have to be given to the governor, House speaker and Senate president. Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy asked for that provision to be included due to concerns that a distracted driving ban could be used for racial profiling.

Several parents who lost children in accidents urged the committee to approve the bill. Debbie Wanninkhof said her 25-year-old son, Patrick, died in an accident caused by a driver using a cellphone.

“We need to wake up to the danger of wireless communication device addicts,” she said. “Cellphone use … is an addiction for many. You hear the stimulus of a ping and you immediately grab the phone and you respond instantly. It happens over and over again, and just like a drug addiction, it can be deadly.”

The Senate bill has been unanimously approved in its first two of four committee stops. A similar House bill hasn’t been heard in committee yet, but House sponsor Rep. Jackie Toledo said House Speaker Jose Oliva has promised it will get a hearing.

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Defensive Driving Tips

These simple precautions can help ensure you enjoy the ride — as well as the destination.

Want to make the roads safer, while protecting you, your loved ones and your car? Take the first step by honing your defensive driving skills. These tips can help you become more fully engaged in your journeys and stay safe behind the wheel.

Keep Looking Ahead

Be sure to look as far ahead as you are able. All too frequently when people are behind the wheel, they are only concerned the direct area in front of them. While the first few feet in front of your car is its own type of danger zone, especially if there is a hazard of any kind on the road, looking ahead and around is also important. This will allow you ample response time for anything that is coming your way.

Check Your Mirrors

Scan the horizon and continuously check your mirrors. Your eyes should always be moving and taking in as much information as possible. For example, if you notice that the car in front of you is slowing down, start braking. If you are fixated only on the car in front of you, you might not notice another car coming into your lane, which could result in an accident.

Stay Alert and Take Breaks if Needed

Take your required breaks and avoid drowsy driving. Drowsiness can lead to dangerous driving behavior like drifting out of your lane, not braking when needed, and crashing.

Avoid Distractions

Keeping your eyes up means keeping them off devices and distractions in the vehicle. Driver distraction doubled the risk of having a vehicle collision according to research from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI). They identified some of the riskiest distractions as using a cell phone, reading and writing, reaching, using a touchscreen, as well as being fatigued, emotional, and interacting with another passenger in the vehicle.

Another VTTI study of commercial vehicle operations showed that texting and driving “raises a heavy-truck driver’s risk of a safety-critical event by 23 times.”

Locking away the phone and keeping objects out of the front seat to avoid temptation are just two ways to minimize distraction and increase overall safety.

Be Prepared for Anything

Being prepared means taking note of the weather or road conditions and then driving to the conditions. Driving at the posted speed limit may be fine in sunny weather, but if it’s snowing or raining hard, that same speed will be too fast. Preparedness also means watching the traffic and being ready to adjust your driving. Don’t forget to check the areas along the road and up onto the sidewalks, in case a pedestrian or animal might cross your path.

Just like having a emergency plan at home, you should always have a plan for emergencies while driving. Having an idea of how you will react in possible situations and preparing for them in advance, will help you to avoid potentially life threatening situations. Having an escape plan can be as simple as making sure that you always have space around your vehicle in case you need to swerve to avoid some type of hazard. The more prepared you are before the emergency, the more likely it will be that you will avoid it.

Leave Space and Keep Your Distance

Although there are some things about driving you can’t control, you can control the distance between you and the next car in front of you. This is unique because you do not have this ability with any other side of your vehicle. Because this is the only distance that you can control, you should be aware of how closely you are following the vehicle in front of you. Also, beware of driving in a pack.

It’s a fact that trucks need a lot more time and space to stop. A passenger vehicle weighing 4,000 lbs and driving 65 mph takes 316 ft to stop. A tractor-trailer weighing 80,000 lbs, driving at 65 mph, will take 525 ft to stop — that’s equivalent to the length of two football fields!

To ensure that you maintain the best following distance, you will want to take certain factors into account:

  • the type of vehicle in front of you,
  • your speed,
  • and the weather conditions.

For example, a small motorcycle will be able to stop much faster than a larger vehicle, so you want to be sure to leave more distance. How fast are you traveling? If you are traveling at 100 mph, it will take much more time and distance to stop than if you were traveling at 25 mph. If the roads are wet from rain or icy from a recent snow, you will need to keep more space between your truck and other the vehicle. You always want to be sure that there is enough room in front of you to stop, regardless of the conditions, to avoid a collision.

Whether you’re exploring the countryside with your best pal or merely driving your kids to school, your car can be a gateway to lots of memorable moments. These simple precautions can help ensure you enjoy the ride — as well as the destination.

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Teaching Your Teens to Drive

Create a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement that puts your rules in writing
to clearly set expectations and limits.

In this country the general population of drivers and their skill levels consists of the following:

  • Average drivers 70%
  • Great drivers 25%
  • Death wish drivers 5%

With these thoughts, if you are that 25% of great drivers and you are comfortable with the idea of teaching your teen to drive, then go ahead and do a great job. On the other hand, if you have been driving them around for 15 years while speeding, talking on the phone, tailgating and rolling through stop signs, do you really think it’s a good idea for you to teach your child to drive?

Teens are involved in traffic crashes for specific reasons. I hear parents say that their teen has had a few minor fender benders and that’s part of learning to drive. What that really indicates, is that it is just a matter of time before they are seriously injured or hurt someone else.

Driving is a learned experience, but the truth is that the initial learning experience is critical in how young drivers develop into great drivers. Teaching your teen is one of the most critical parts of protecting your teens future, most decisions they make will not alter or end their life-think about it.

Download you teen driving contract here:
https://www.cdc.gov/parentsarethekey/agreement/index.html

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Car Crashes

40 people died in St. Pete car crashes in 2018, the deadliest year on record.

When you examine car crashes, you must understand one thing, they just don’t happen. Driving skills are becoming less important as we head to more and more ridiculous safety features. If you want to decrease traffic crashes, take the millions invested in driverless cars and put that money into creating better drivers.

Driving is a skill that is learned and must be practiced constantly behind the wheel. The issue regarding driver education is that if your taught to drive by a fool-now we have 2 fools on the road.

Driving must be taught by the great drivers of the world, which by the way is only 25% of the driving population. They didn’t become great by accident. They were taught by someone with great driving skills and they put that education into practice. When you’re driving, you must be aware of everything that is always going on around you, not just occasionally, but all the time. If I had to pick one thing that I could instill in new drivers, it would be to focus on the big picture of driving.

What are drivers doing that are behind you, alongside you and coming head on towards you? That’s what will make the difference in that decision that will save your life. Remember cars that are approaching you at 60 mph, are traveling at almost 90 feet per second. You are traveling at 90 feet per second, so you are closing at 180 feet per second. If you are talking on
the phone or worse texting, you will cross the center line or run the red light and it will happen in a split second.

            Drive like everyone else’s life depends on your actions, because the truth of the matter is that most head on collision are nothing more than not paying attention to your driving. It’s no different than if you took a gun and killed someone. You have no right and the reality is that it’s all avoidable if we increase our driving skills. Be that GREAT DRIVER!

Here’s a local news story for St. Pete that illustrates the need for great drivers:
https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/driving-tampa-bay-forward/40-people-die-in-st-pete-car-crashes-the-deadliest-year-on-record

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