Crashes related to distracted driving on the rise

FOX 35 News at 10 p.m.

- New numbers from the State of Florida will have you jamming on your brakes.  The state says crashes caused by distracted drivers increased the last three years in a row, and of all the counties in the state, Orange County has the worst numbers. 

Too many drivers are looking at everything except the roadways.  The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles says 214 people died in distracted driving crashes in 2015.  It says there were 45,740 distracted driving crashes last year.   Orange County had the most, with 5506 crashes.

"Statistically, driving a motor vehicle is the most dangerous thing most of us will ever do," says Glenn Victor, who works with the Florida Safety Council, which teaches us how to be safe on our roadways.  Victor agrees with the state’s finding, that some tourists are driving in a daze in Orange County.  "What’s the first thing people do when they get off an airplane to visit?  They rent a car they are not familiar with, and they get on roads they are not familiar with."

Victor says it doesn’t help that visitors are snapping vacation photos for social media, instead of just driving.  Florida enacted a ban on texting and driving three years ago, but the crash numbers involving distracted drivers have risen steadily over the last three years.  Victor sees people doing all kinds of things behind the wheel,  "putting on makeup, shaving, eating fast food, things of that nature," he says.

He offers a simple solution.  "Put the phone down. There is no phone call or text message that cannot wait until you get off the road."

Analysts say Florida’s population and tourism numbers continue to rise each year.  That means even more distracted drivers on our roadways.   

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