Spike in traffic fatalities fuels push for distracted driving study

Florida is 1 of 6 states without texting while driving ban

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Distracted driving is a disturbing trend that affects every driver in Florida, and especially those in Duval County. Now, Gov. Rick Scott is looking into the possibility of a distracted driving law after a spike in the number of traffic fatalities this year.

Duval County is one of seven Florida counties that has seen a huge jump in traffic fatalities, and those deaths could be a result of more people driving while distracted.

It's a statistic Kelli Wantz is unfortunately all too familiar with. Her 20-year-old sister, Chelsea, was killed in a car accident on her scooter earlier this month, and her father was killed in a motorcycle accident back in 2006. Chelsea Wantz was three days away from turning 21.

Death's like hers are an increasing and disturbing trend. According to the Florida Division of Motor Vehicles, accidents on the road have left at least four-percent more families with the heartache Wantz is suffering.

"They resuscitated her on the spot, took her to Flagler then Lifeflight to Shands, and the bleeding in her brain was too much. She passed away at Shands," said Wantz.

The trend is even worse in Duval County, the number of deaths jumped from 69 to 98 last year. That number has spurred Scott to push for a study into whether distracted driving is to blame.

"Absolutely, people aren't paying attention. They're like looking down, or or not paying attention to what they are doing," said driver Brian Esterak.

Florida is one of only six states that doesn't have a ban on texting while driving. The state's study may lead to one, but for both Wantz and Esterak, the correlation is obvious and the need for new laws is even more clear.

"People don't pay attention because they don't think about it, because in a car your safe, but on two wheels you are not," said Wantz.

Copyright 2012 by News4Jax.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.