Florida’s Texting and Driving Ban Takes Effect Monday, July 1, 2019

Starting Monday, July 1, 2019 law enforcement in Florida will be able to pull drivers over if they see them texting and driving. Florida’s texting and driving bill signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, makes texting and driving a primary offense. Up until this point, texting and driving was considered a secondary offense, meaning law enforcement needed another violation to pull the driver over. Florida lawmakers have worked hard to change this fact for years but were only successful this last session in passing a law that makes texting behind the wheel a primary offense. The legislation was officially signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on May 17. He noted that Florida was one of the last states to make texting while driving a primary offense. He also noted that Florida had more than 50,000 accidents in 2016 alone caused by distracted driving, resulting in 233 people losing their lives. Since this law is so new, drivers should be aware that law enforcement will be on heightened alert to warn drivers of their violations. If you are pulled over for a violation between now and the end of the year, however, you will only receive a warning. This six-month grace period was set to allow drivers to get used to the new law before written citations are issued. Once the new year begins, all bets are off, and law enforcement will be issuing formal tickets if a driver is seen texting while driving. Certain exceptions exist under the new law, including the use of GPS or Bluetooth on cellphones. Drivers can use these applications, so long as they are...

Why More Car Accidents Happen in the Summer

Many drivers in the Miami area may notice an increase in car accidents during the summer. The summer months typically mean more vehicles on the road and more tourists visiting our state.  According to statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the summer months are some of the most dangerous times to be on the roads. The increase in auto accidents has to do with a number of factors, including more teenage drivers being on the road, an increased number of tourists and holiday weekends. Holiday Weekends Summer brings two big celebrations, namely Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. Memorial Day weekend has always been considered one of the most dangerous driving holidays of the year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 400 people die every year during Memorial Day weekend in traffic accidents. The July Fourth holiday has also been reported as one of the deadliest driving holidays. Alcohol is a common factor in many of these fatal car accidents and pedestrian accidents.    Road Construction The summer months are a popular time for construction work on our nation’s highways. This increase in construction can cause road congestion, lane closures and detours, which can all result in an increase in auto accidents. Car Problems The heat can have a damaging effect on your vehicle’s performance if proper maintenance and precautions are not taken during the summer months.  The extreme heat in Florida can cause to tires to expand resulting in a blowout and and engines to overheat. Teen Drivers During the summer, kids are out of school, which means more teen...

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND DRIVING DANGERS

The roads can be a dangerous place on any given day, but statistics show that certain days stand out among the rest for being more dangerous. We happen to be coming up on one of those days, so be prepared if you plan to be on the roads this Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day has long-been heralded as the official start of summer, but it is also one of the deadliest driving holidays of the year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 400 people die annually during Memorial Day weekend from traffic accidents. Additionally, approximately 13 percent more traffic deaths happen on this weekend than others. The reason for this increase in traffic-related fatalities can be directly attributed to alcohol. Here are some additional dangerous driving days to beware of this summer. Fridays in the summer Some of the busiest times on the road involve Fridays in June, July or August. Think about it. People may get off work a few hours early to get an early start on weekend plans, and in Florida, this can mean people traveling from out of state to stay at one of our famous beach resorts. This extra traffic can often result in additional car accidents. Fourth of July  The Fourth of July has consistently been marked as the deadliest day to be on the road. Many reasons exist for this statistic. Increased travel on the roads can lead to more accidents, but alcohol consumption can also make this situation even more dangerous as people travel to and from Fourth of July celebrations. INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT THIS MEMORIAL...

Effectiveness of Tesla’s Autopilot System in Question, AGAIN After Another Fatal Crash

Tesla’s Autopilot semi-autonomous driving system is being blamed for another driver death.  It was reported that that the autopilot system was fully engaged when a Model 3 vehicle drove beneath a semitrailer in Florida, killing the driver of the Tesla. The autopilot system was engaged 10 seconds before the crash, and neither the system nor the driver stopped the vehicle, according to federal investigators.  The vehicle was traveling at approximately 68 miles per hour at the time of the crash.  The vehicle did not sense the driver’s hands on the wheel in the final 8 seconds. The roof of the Tesla was blown off in the accident and the car finally stopped at a median about 1,600 feet from where it hit the semi-truck. The driver of the semi-truck was uninjured. In 2016, another crash occurred under similar circumstances in Florida. In both instances, the driver was killed, and the roof of the Tesla was torn off. Neither report assigned blame on the driver or the vehicle. The crash remains under investigation by the NTSB and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This fatal crash comes shortly after a California family sued Tesla for wrongful death and negligence, alleging a defective Autopilot system was to blame for the death of their loved one. Currently, Tesla vehicles are being used by tens of thousands of people and more lives could be at risk.  Automakers putting profits ahead of consumer safety is unacceptable.  If you or a loved one has been injured due to a defective Tesla autopilot system, or any other type of automobile defect – you have legal rights....

Not Having Uninsured Motorist Coverage Can Be a Costly Mistake in Florida

Florida has among the highest uninsured motorist rates in the country. It is estimated that nearly 1 in 4 Florida drivers are driving without car insurance. It is a scary statistic, but highlights the importance of Florida drivers carrying what is called uninsured motorist (UM) coverage.  Uninsured motorist coverage takes the place of liability coverage for the at-fault driver if he or she is uninsured or under-insured.  This coverage applies when: the other driver is at-fault for the accident; the other driver is uninsured or under-insured; you are the victim of a hit-and-run.  UM will pay for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering and for injuries sustained by both the insured and any family member.  Florida drivers have the option to “stack” UM coverage. This means you can add one vehicle’s coverage on top of another vehicle’s coverage to increase the total insurance payout if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured (or under-insured) motorist.  For example, if you have two vehicles insured under the same policy, each with $50,000 per person / $100,000 per accident UM coverage limits.  With stacked coverage you can combine the UM limits from the two cars, which will now give you $100,000 per person / $200,000 per accident. Some states require that drivers carry UM coverage, but Florida does not.  Because of this, many drivers feel that it is not important.  Not having this coverage can a costly mistake in Florida.  Many come to find this out after being involved in a serious car accident.  As a personal injury auto accident attorney in Miami, I have learned that insurance...

Lawsuit Claims Autopilot Defects on the 2017 Tesla Model X Caused Fatal Car Crash

A California family is suing Tesla for wrongful death and negligence, alleging a defective Autopilot system was to blame for the death of their loved one.  The driver of the 2017 Tesla Model X P100D, Wei Lun “Walter” Huang, crashed head-on into a barrier at 71 mph on March 23, 2018, on Highway 101 in Mountain View, California. He was an engineer for Apple. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Huang had been using Tesla’s Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control four times during a 32-minute trip, including for one continuous stretch during the last 19 minutes prior to the crash. Huang was approaching a junction between Highways 101 and 85 and was in the left lane, at which point the lanes split. After the Model X no longer detected the car ahead of it, the Tesla veered left and accelerated back to Huang’s set 75-mph speed, now heading straight for the barrier, according to the NTSB preliminary report. The car’s sensors reveal that Huang was not holding the steering wheel for six seconds before impact. The lawsuit claims the Autopilot system should have kept Huang’s car in the lane, alerted him of the imminent crash, and engaged forward emergency braking. None of which occurred, according to the lawsuit. It is still unclear what software version Huang’s car had at the time of the crash, as the investigation is still ongoing. The lawsuit is also charging the State of California with failure to repair the barrier prior to the crash. Tesla, this week introduced new safety features in a software update that includes lane-keeping assist that operates...
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