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Making A Resolution for 2011

While Florida motor vehicle accidents are on the decline, there is still a nationwide problem of texting while driving. Why not have a New Year’s resolution to personally stop texting while driving?

All the data is not in, but so far, it looks like 2010 had the lowest number of traffic crash fatalities in Florida in 30 years according to the Florida Highway Patrol. They reported 2,430 traffic crash deaths in 2010, the lowest number since 1978. In 2009 2,563 people died in traffic crashes, and this is 5% higher than 2010’s numbers.

The 2010 numbers for each county have not yet been released, but according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System there were 18,168 crashes in Hillsborough County Florida in 2009, down 10% from 2008. In Pinellas County there were 13,669 crashes – almost the same amount as there were in 2008.

If you live in the Tampa Bay area, things are definitely improving on the roads, but there is still a huge and growing problem. Texting while driving seems to be growing in these counties and around the nation. The Insurance Research Council released a survey in November 2010 stating that 18 percent of drivers in the U.S. reported texting while driving in the last 30 days. This was definitely a contributing factor in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that showed 5,500 people died in 2009 due to distracted driving, and that distracted driving was a factor in 16 percent of crashes and fatalities in both 2008 and 2009.

Perhaps Florida drivers should participate in the nationwide effort to make a New Year’s resolution to stop texting and driving in 2011. Although the Florida Senate has failed in the past to pass a ban on texting and driving, it will probably try to pass the legislation in 2011.

There are several things that Florida drivers can do to reduce the urge to use a cell phone when driving. Obviously, turning off the phone before starting the car is the best solution, but you could also put the phone in the glove box or trunk before driving. If this is too difficult, there are companies and new technology that restricts the phone’s ability to send and receive text and email messages. Some examples are:

  • Textecution – http://www.textecution.com which disables texting if the phone is moving faster than 10mph.
  • iZUP – http://www.getizup.com/ which automatically sends calls to voicemail and holds text messages when the phone is moving.
  • TXTBlocker – http://www.txtblocker.com/ which not only disables texting and calling while the phone is moving, it text messages parents if the phone is moving at speeds greater than 65 mph, and allows parents to check where the phone is based on a GPS position.
  • DriveSafe.ly – http://www.drivesafe.ly/ which voices text messages and emails as they are received by the phone.

These applications can certainly help to deter drivers from using their cell phones behind the wheel. However, all these tools are only as good as the people using them. Make 2011 a better year by committing to personally stop texting and driving, so that you are not one of next year’s Florida traffic statistics.

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