Florida could outlaw all forms of distracted driving

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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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More Kids Hit at Bus Stops, 6 Accidents in 3 Days

The number of accidents at school bus stops is on the rise as drivers continue to ignore safety rules.

More children have been hit by cars while waiting for a school bus, this time in Florida and Pennsylvania. That makes six accidents at school bus stops in three days across the country.

According to station WTSP, five children and two adults were all hit by a car while waiting at a school bus stop in Tampa. Three of the children were 6 years old, one was 9 and the other was 12. The adults were both in their early 30s. All the people hit by the car were hospitalized AND two children remained in the hospital, according to WTSP. Investigators say the 47-year-old Tampa man driving the car that hit the group did not seem impaired at the time of the incident.

Also, a 7-year-old child was found on the ground with fatal injuries by a school bus driver at a bus stop in Pennsylvania. Tyrone Area School District Superintendent Cathy Harlow said on Facebook that the apparent hit-and-run happened before school. She also said, “the bus driver on route arrived at the stop discovering the situation, contacted 911 and remained at the scene until first-responders arrived.” State police are still looking for the driver, according to NBC 10.

An 11-year-old and a 13-year-old were hit in Louisville, Kentucky around 6:30 a.m. The two young brothers were hit by an unknown driver while crossing a busy intersection. Kentucky police are still looking for the driver.

Two other incidents happened in Florida and Mississippi. Twin boys and their big sister were hit by a car while boarding a school bus in Indiana. A fourth child was struck as well. Xzavier and Mason Ingle, both 6, and Alivia Stahl, 9, were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash in Fulton County. The fourth child, 11-year-old Maverik Lowe, was airlifted to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne with life-threatening injuries.

Sgt. Tony Slocum of the Indiana State Police said that the Tippecanoe Valley School corporation students were hit by a pick-up truck even though the bus was stopped with its lights flashing and its “STOP” arm extended. The pickup truck’s driver, 24-year-old Alyssa Shepherd, was arrested at her job just after 4 p.m., Indiana State Police said in a news release. Shepherd remained at the scene after the crash and cooperated with investigators. Her blood test did not indicate that alcohol or drugs played a factor, according to Gannett. Shepherd was charged with multiple felony counts of reckless homicide and one misdemeanor count of passing a school bus when an arm signal device is extended, causing bodily injury, court records show.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were about 1,300 people killed in school transportation-related accidents between 2006 and 2015. About 100 of those victims were classified as school-age pedestrians. 64 percent of the children killed were stuck by a bus or a vehicle serving as a bus, while 36 percent were hit by other vehicles, the administration said.

What if these were your children or family members? It’s up to each one of us to ensure our children make it to school and back safely. Remove distractions from your driving and pay attention to what’s happening all around you. These kids are victims because drivers are putting on makeup, holding a cellphone, reading or performing other distracting activities. None of these reasons is worth a life.

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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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Safety Issues and Recalls


The car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) is the identifying code for a SPECIFIC automobile. The VIN serves as the car’s fingerprint, as no two vehicles in operation have the same VIN. A VIN is composed of 17 characters (digits and capital letters) that act as a unique identifier for the vehicle.

Here at the American Safety Institute we want you to be as safe on the road as possible. There’s a lot that happens during driving that is outside our control and the mechanical conditions of your car can be one. Sometimes there are issues with our vehicles that we are unaware of. If you bought your car from a major dealer, they will probably alert you of any recalls or updates. Older vehicles or those bought from a used car lot can’t count on the same notifications. Sometimes you have to do your own homework.

Two of our favorite and accredited websites have pages dedicated to informing the public of any safety issues and recalls. Make sure your car doesn’t have an issue that the manufacturer will pay to have fixed, but moreover could cause you serious problems if not addressed.

Two of our favorite and accredited websites have pages dedicated to informing the public of any safety issues and recalls. Make sure your car doesn’t have an issue that the manufacturer will pay to have fixed, but moreover could cause you serious problems if not addressed.

www.nhtsa.gov/recalls

www.recalls.gov/nhtsa.html

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