Avoid distracted driving ahead of Labor Day weekend

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With the holiday weekend ahead of us, many families are hitting the road to celebrate.

If you are planning to, law enforcement agencies in Northeast Florida want to remind you to put your phone away and avoid any distractions while driving. 

The Clay County Sheriff's Office says distracted driving is becoming far too common. It is not just people using their cellphones to text or check social media, but also people who are eating or drinking and taking their focus away from the road. 

"People live and die on social media, and I say that two-fold because some people do live and die by social media when it causes serious traffic crashes with injuries or death," said Chris Padgett, a spokesperson for the Clay County Sheriff's Office. 

A survey released by AAA earlier this year found that nearly 45 percent of drivers read a text message or email while driving and nearly 35 percent have sent one. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 3,450 lives lost because of distracted driving in 2016. 

"I had a subject who was distracted come right into my lane and run me into the adjacent lane next to me," Padgett said. "Thankfully there was no one there but obviously because of the distracted driving, it caused another traffic infraction."

Under Florida law, distracted driving is a secondary offense, meaning drivers cannot be stopped for texting and driving unless they are pulled over for another traffic violation. 

Police are urging drivers to turn their phones on do not disturb mode or silent before starting their car to prevent distractions.

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