Florida car accident attorney Philip DeBerard, III, joined the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) call this week to adopt a nationwide ban on drivers using cell phones and other mobile devices while behind the wheel.

“If motorists in Florida and elsewhere refuse to put away their phones voluntarily, then we need laws that will force them to do so,” said DeBerard, founder of the Florida personal injury firm of Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney. The firm represents car accident victims and the families of those who have lost loved ones in auto collisions throughout South Florida.

DeBerard has strongly supported prohibitions against talking on cell phones or texting while driving. His law firm recently launched a Facebook page, “Hang Up and Drive,” to spread awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

“But a ban doesn’t go far enough,” DeBerard said. “We need to make sure that these laws are strictly enforced in order to make sure that no more accidents, injuries and deaths are caused by this inexcusable, reckless form of driving.”

DeBerard was reacting to the NTSB recommendation issued earlier this week in a report on its investigation of an August 2010 accident in Missouri that killed two people and injured 38 others.

The NTSB found that the 19-year-old driver of a pickup truck that initiated the fatal chain-collision pileup had sent 11 texts in the 11 minutes immediately before the crash. In its report, the NTSB concluded that the driver’s distraction, “likely due to his text messaging conversation” resulted in his failure to notice and react to a tractor-truck that had been slowing down in a work zone. Two school buses were subsequently drawn into the pileup.

According to a Miami Herald article, an NTSB board member said that even though Missouri had a law banning drivers under age 21 from texting while driving at the time of the crash, it was not aggressively enforced.

As a result of its investigation, the NTSB called on all 50 states and the District of Columbia to:

  • Ban the non-emergency use of portable electronic devices for all drivers (including hand-held and hands-free devices);
  • Use high-visibility enforcement to support the bans; and
  • Implement targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new law and enforcement and to warn them of the dangers of using portable electronic devices while driving.

DeBerard pointed out that Florida is one of the few states in the country to have no restrictions at all on text messaging and talking on cell phones while driving. Several proposed legislative measures have gone down in defeat in recent years.

“The NTSB has no power to impose restrictions, but hopefully, the message that it has sent this week will carry a heavy weight with our state’s lawmakers,” DeBerard said. “We need change now.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 4,000 traffic fatalities were caused, in part, by distracted driving last year, including cell phone use. A study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that a driver who is texting is 23 times more likely to have an accident than a motorist who is focused on the road.

Even without a law banning talking on a cell phone or texting while driving, DeBerard said that such conduct could be used to establish negligence in a South Florida auto accident lawsuit. Due to the prevalence of distracted driving, he said that one of the first steps in any investigation of a collision is to check the at-fault driver’s phone records.

He encouraged anyone who has been injured by a distracted driver to talk to an experienced Florida car accident attorney to ensure full and fair compensation for losses and injuries.

“Distracted driving can never be tolerated,” DeBerard said. “When you use a cell phone behind the wheel, you’re not multi-tasking. You’re putting your life and the lives of everyone else on the road in danger.”

About Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney

The law firm of Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, has provided professional and compassionate legal assistance to personal injury and accident victims in South Florida on the Treasure Coast since 1975. The firm’s practice areas include car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, product liability, dog bite injuries, swimming pool accidents, slip and fall injuries, medical malpractice, and wrongful death claims.

The firm represents clients throughout the South Florida communities of Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, Jupiter, Stuart, Okeechobee, Vero Beach, Palm Beach and across the state of Florida. For more information, call (800) 299-8878 or use the firm’s online contact form.