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Trial Lawyers Launch Effort to End Distracted Driving

A group of lawyers hopes to help change the culture behind the wheel. (DodgertonSkillhause/morguefile)
A group of lawyers hopes to help change the culture behind the wheel. (DodgertonSkillhause/morguefile)
September 9, 2016

MIAMI – Out of one of the darkest moments in this country's history, the September 11th attacks, came an outpouring of volunteerism across the country. Now, one group hopes to recapture some of that spirit of service with a project aimed at preventing senseless deaths.

Fifteen years ago, the nation's trial lawyers helped Congress establish the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, and worked pro bono to help the families of more than 4,000 victims navigate the system.

Florida-based attorney Julie Bramman Kane is the president of the American Association for Justice, and she said in honor of the 15th anniversary, her organization is tackling another volunteer effort: distracted driving.

"I've seen kids and adults injured and killed because someone wasn't paying attention on the road," she said. "So what we're trying to do is prevent those tragic loss of lives. Those lives shouldn't be lost."

Hundreds of lawyers already have signed up to give presentations in high schools across Florida and the rest of the country, with the hopes of encouraging students to make safe choices while driving and to be empowered, educated passengers.

According to national statistics, in 2013, more than 3,100 people were killed, and 431,000 more injured in crashes involving distracted drivers.

Distracted driving is loosely defined as paying attention to anything other than the car and the road when you're behind the wheel. Bramman Kane said that includes, but is not limited to, texting.

"Navigation systems, playing with the radio, playing with people's hair, you see all sorts of things on the road that stop people from paying attention to the things they should be doing as drivers, and anything can qualify as distracted driving," she explained.

Bramman Kane added that distracted driving is by no means just a teenage problem, and that students they've spoken to so far say they're doing what they see their parents do behind the wheel.

Close to 1,000 lawyers are expected to volunteer their time to the program over the course of this school year.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - FL