Deaths on South Florida roadways rose in 2012 when compared to 2011. The increase in fatalities was the first since 2006. Specifically, there were 171 traffic deaths in Broward County compared to 154 in 2011, and In Palm Beach County, traffic deaths rose from 116 in 2011 to 136 in 2012. Unfortunately this is a nationwide trend, and while there may have been more cars on the road in 2012 then in previous years, my bet is distracted driving was responsible, at least in part, for the increase. Florida is among a minority of states that do not have any restrictions on cell phone use or texting while driving.
Again, while cycling has grown in popularity, the number of bicyclists killed in Florida increased 57 percent between 2010 and 2011. I cannot imagine that there was a 57% increase of new bike riders. The common denominator is an increase in distracted driving.
The number of motorcycle riders killed was up 18 percent and their passengers 15 percent.
As a South Florida Personal injury lawyer that specializes in representing victims of car accidents and bicycle accidents, I can tell you that distracted driving is a huge problem. Recently courts have allowed victims of car accidents to sue for punitive damages if the at fault driver was using his cellphone at the time of the accident. Punitive damages are not covered by insurance, and must be paid by the negligent party.
Punitive damages are commonly allowed in drunk driving cases, but with the prevalence of distracted driving accidents, Florida courts have allowed Plaintiff’s to seek punitive damage awards.