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Distracted driving a challenge for all ages

It seems that everywhere you turn there's a new reminder about the dangers of distracted driving. It happens to be occurring a bit more right now than perhaps other times of the year because April happens to be National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Among the ways that is playing out here in Florida is by way of a formal proclamation from the governor. He issued a statement earlier this month urging all 15 million drivers in the state, those licensed by the state and any who might be visiting, to commit to keeping their hands on the wheel and their focus on the road.

He noted that there were some 42,000 crashes due to distracted driving recorded in the state in 2014. As a result more than 200 people died and some 35,000 injuries were inflicted.

The governor's proclamation bolstered information supplied by the Florida Highway Patrol. It said that distracted driving collisions have increased by 25 percent since 2012. And the FHP suggested that young drivers may bear a big part of the responsibility for that, noting that while teens make up 5 percent of licensed Florida drivers, they are involved in 12 percent of the distracted driving accidents.

But it's not just the young ones who need to be mindful of this issue. As a study published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention revealed, older drivers were less adept at texting and driving than younger ones are.

The test clumped drivers by age groups and then sent them through simulations of driving while trying to hold a text conversation. Overall, two-thirds of all the drivers ended up crossing over into oncoming lanes or running onto the shoulder. More stunning is that virtually all the drivers in the 45 to 59 group strayed, compared to about 25 percent for those aged 18 to 24.

The take away, according to researchers, is that none of us can afford to adopt the view that greater age means greater ability to multi-task.

Regardless of whether you are a fan of the governor or not, it seems his admonition about being more mindful drivers deserves to be heeded. And not just during the month of April.

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