DWC or “Driving While Chatting” could be a new acronym next to DUI or DWI. As the debate heats up nationally, an increasing amount of states are considering a ban on cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle, including Florida.
Early this morning, two Florida law enforcement officials and another victim where rushed to an Orlando-area hospital after a distracted driver plowed into their vehicles when he went to reach for his cell phone. The accident occurred shortly after 3:30 a.m. near the intersection of Apopka Vineland and Conroy in Windermere. Florida Highway Patrol trooper Clark Egerton, 47, Windermere officer Jason Sipos, 35, and another driver, Sheri Faynik, 23, were all rushed to Orlando Regional Medical Center following the crash.
According to the officers, Christopher Patterson, 27, of Ocee, was distracted by his cell phone when he sideswiped all three vehicles parked on the side of the highway. Officer Egerton had pulled over Faynik for speeding and officer Sipos arrived on the scene to assist just before the crash occurred. Officers Egerton and Sipos were still inside their vehicles at the time of the crash.
While Florida does not currently have a cell phone ban in place, many safety groups are pushing for future regulations to create safer Florida roadways. Despite the benefits, the “road” to passing these measures is long and winding. Most recently, Maryland became the newest state to pass a state-wide ban on cell phone use while driving; however it took Maryland’s Legislature nearly a decade to pass the ban.
Some experts believe that talking on your cell phone while driving is equivalent to driving drunk in terms of the likelihood of getting into an accident.
• Driver distracted by cell phone plows into FHP trooper, Windermere officer, other car (Orlando Sentinel, May 24, 2010)