September Newsletter 

 October 14, 2015

By  LMW Attorneys

How Can You Prevent A Car Accident?

There are ways to avoid or prevent a car accident, and they are worth a review if it might prevent injury, or even death. Share these suggestions with your friends and loved ones.

The NHTSA estimates that 1,600 lives could be saved, and 22,000 injuries could be prevented, if an additional 3% of drivers wore seat belts. Take responsibility for ensuring that drivers and passengers in your family are buckled up.

Watch for red light runners. Make it a habit to count to three before entering an intersection when the light turns green. Many drivers are unaware that a yellow light doesn’t signal speeding up to go through an intersection, which is the cause of many needless accidents.

Driver distraction is becoming the leading cause of serious accidents. Each day in the United States more than nine people are killed, and more than 1,153 people are injured, in crashes reported to involve a distracted driver. Distracted driving is driving while engaged in another activity that takes your attention away from driving. A distracted driver is 23% more likely to be involved in an accident, and it takes only seconds to take your attention away from driving safely.

Besides texting while driving, which we all know is banned in Florida, other causes of driver distraction are changing radio stations, talking on a cell phone, eating and drinking, passenger distraction, unrestrained children or pets, fatigue and more. Every one of these contributes to increased chances of an accident.

It is easy to think that an incoming text is important and will take only a moment to read and respond to. But ask someone who has been in a distracted driver accident, and you’ll learn that they thought it couldn’t happen to them…but it did. They will most likely tell you that they are lucky to be alive.

There are ways to control that urge to look down at an incoming message. One way is to mute the phone or put the phone in the back seat or in the glove box. We have choices. Make them good ones.

Keep your vehicle in good shape. Schedule regular maintenance and keep tires properly inflated. Replace broken windshields and make sure that all lights are in working order.

Always be alert, especially when driving through neighborhoods where kids and pets can suddenly appear.

Courtesy on the road goes a long way toward avoiding and preventing accidents. We’ve all heard about road rage incidents. Tailgating, as tempting as it is, is a major cause of accidents. Back off and leave a 3 – 5 second cushion between you and the car in front of you. Aggressive driving is the cause of more than half of all traffic fatalities. Common road rage behaviors include racing, tailgating, failure to observe signs, confronting other drivers and speeding.

When you drive, put your whole attention into it. Your life depends on it.

Do You Know The Laws For Stopping For School Buses?

Florida Motor Vehicles Laws require that motorists stop upon approaching any school bus which displays its flashing red lights and has its stop signs extended.

316.172 Traffic to stop for school bus. —

(1) (a) Any person using, operating, or driving a vehicle on or over the roads or highways of this state shall, upon approaching any school bus which displays a stop signal, bring such vehicle to a full stop while the bus is stopped, and the vehicle shall not pass the school bus until the signal has been withdrawn. A person who violates this section commits a moving violation, punishable as provided in chapter 318.

(1) (b) Any person using, operating, or driving a vehicle that passes a school bus on the side that children enter and exit when the school bus displays a stop signal commits a moving violation, punishable as provided in chapter 318, and is subject to a mandatory hearing under the provisions of s. 318.19.

(2) The driver of a vehicle upon a divided highway with an unpaved space of at least 5 feet, a raised median, or a physical barrier is not required to stop when traveling in the opposite direction of a school bus which is stopped in accordance with the provisions of this section.

(3) Every school bus shall stop as far to the right of the street as possible and shall display warning lights and stop signals as required by rules of the State Board of Education before discharging or loading passengers. When possible, a school bus shall not stop where the visibility is obscured for a distance of 200 feet either way from the bus.

In the Community

Attorney Craig Laporte Serves On Board Of Leadership Pasco

Craig Laporte served as President and a member of the Board of Directors for Leadership Pasco from 2006 to 2015. He now serves as an Ex-Officio member of the Board. He continues his service as the Program Chair for Orientation for the incoming class. That program was held for the 2016 class on August 27th. Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins is the major sponsor. Organizer and presenter of Criminal Justice Day which is scheduled for October 15th.

The purpose of this program is to teach the class about the many issues that law enforcement is facing today and to better understand the criminal justice system in Pasco County. This program is always one of the most enjoyed learning opportunities afforded to those who participate in Leadership Pasco.

Attorney Frances Werner-Watkins Volunteers With Guardian Ad Litem Program

Guardian Ad Litem: Representing juveniles has always been something attorney Frances Werner- Watkins has felt passionate about. Normally her cases are in the criminal courts or school related issues when dealing with juveniles. Lately, Frances has been requested to help with becoming a Guardian Ad Litem for juveniles that are in the family court system. The ability to actually become the “voice” of a child is one that creates a whole new dynamic for her. Her role as guardian requires her to speak solely on behalf of the child to voice their desires and help the court determine what is in the child’s best interest. The Guardian Ad Litem program welcomes volunteers and attorneys to become involved in some of the most contentious cases. Frances has been able to assist the family courts with her desire to always place the children first in any court case.

You do not have to be a lawyer to become involved in the program. Guardians are required to go through a required training and understand their specific role in any case. If you have a desire to get involved the judicial system is always looking for qualified volunteers to help. You can contact the local Guardian Ad Litem office in your area to find out more information. In Pasco you can visit the Guardians Ad Litem homepage for more information.