Pasco County Personal Injury Lawyers | Whittel & Melton, LLC | New Port Richey, Dade City

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you may already be dealing with the pressure associated with your family’s wellbeing. The claims process for an injury can be overwhelming, so it is normal to feel scared and unsure of what to do next. While you may be tempted to accept the insurance company’s initial offer just so you can put the matter behind you, the reality of the situation is that you may be entitled to much larger compensation than the insurance company wishes to let on.

Don’t Face the Judge Alone! Zephyrhills, Land O’Lakes, Hudson, Holiday, Lutz, Trinity

As Pasco County Personal Injury Lawyers, we are more than familiar with the measures some Florida auto insurance companies will stoop to in order to settle claims in their favor. We focus on helping individuals and their families suffering from accidents related to auto collisions, motorcycle and ATV accidents, electrical contact, slip, trip and falls and medical malpractice. We represent regular, hard-working people who have become injured either on the job or as a result of the carelessness of another person or company. Our main goal is to see that you receive the greatest financial security for your family so that you have the peace of mind that your loved ones will be taken care of throughout this difficult time.

No matter how complex the case, the Pasco County Personal Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton have the staff, legal resources and experience to take on your injury matter in New Port Richey, Dade City, Zephyrhills, Land O'Lakes, Hudson, Holiday, Lutz, Trinity and Wesley Chapel.

If your or a family member has suffered from a serious injury, give our Pasco County Personal Injury Lawyers a call today. You can review our practice areas pages here to see the various injury cases we handle. Your consultation is always free, and by contacting us you will speak to one of our personal injury attorneys who will supply you with a detailed legal assessment of the merits of your case. We work on a contingency basis, meaning you will pay no fees unless and until a financial recovery for damages is collected for you.

Navigate our web site and explore our blog to see if the information posted can shed some light on the legal issues you may be dealing with and to learn more about our firm, our attorneys, and why you can trust us with your case. Once you decide that your situation demands personal representation from experienced counsel familiar with the Pasco community, contact us to see how we can help resolve your injury matter.

A 7-year-old boy was killed Saturday night in Port Richey after being hit by a motorcyclist who left the scene of the crash. 

The 19-year-old biker turned himself in to the Port Richey Police Department on Sunday and admitted his involvement in the crash to Florida Highway Patrol troopers, according to police reports. 

The man is now facing charges of leaving the scene of a crash where a death occurred and not having a motorcycle endorsement. 

girl-5087960_1920-300x200Police did say they recovered the motorcycle at a residence close to the accident site. 

The crash happened around 9:30 p.m. when the boy was out for a walk with his mother and siblings that night looking at Christmas lights in their neighborhood. The family was crossing an intersection when the 19-year-old motorcyclist sped through and struck the boy. 

The man then got back on his bike and drove away from the crash.

The boy was taken to a hospital close by, but died from his injuries. 

Troopers say that they did recover shards of plastic that fell off the man’s motorcycle during the crash that ultimately helped them decipher the  make and model of the motorcycle involved. 

When most people think of motor vehicle accidents, they don’t usually think of people walking on foot being struck by a motorcycle. But, these types of accidents can and do happen, often resulting in tragic injuries to the pedestrian. Anytime a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle, including a motorcycle, the results can be deadly. 

A standard motorcycle weighs somewhere between 400-900 pounds, so when this piece of equipment collides with a pedestrian at a high rate of speed, it is easy to see how the results can be deadly. 

Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences one can go through in life. If your loved one died in an accident that they did not cause, such as a speeding motorcycle who fled the scene of the crash, this can be even more difficult to understand and accept. If you lost a child due to another person’s act of negligence, our Pasco County Wrongful Death Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you understand your rights to recover financial compensation for your physical, financial, and emotional losses stemming from the accident. We know that nothing we do will undo the pain and suffering you are experiencing, but we can do everything in our power to hold the at-fault party responsible for their careless and reckless actions. 

A motorcyclist, just like any other driver, has a responsibility to keep others on the roadway safe. Motorists who ignore traffic laws and do not yield to pedestrians can be found at fault when accidents happen. We proudly help pedestrians and surviving family members who have been the victims of: 

  • Hit and run collisions
  • Drunk or drugged driving accidents
  • Intersection or crosswalk accidents
  • Distracted driving accidents 
  • All other types of pedestrian accidents

At Whittel & Melton, we understand the devastating toll that losing a loved one can take on your family. We want to provide you with the peace of mind you need to know that we will handle every detail of your loved one’s wrongful death case so that you can focus on working through your grief and healing. We want to make sure the responsible party is held accountable so that they do not repeat their negligent actions and cause anyone else to suffer harm. 

Our Pasco County Wrongful Death Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you understand the amount of financial damages you are entitled to in a wrongful death claim. Your award should cover both your current and future financial losses, such as:

  • Lost income
  • Any medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Metal anguish
  • Ongoing therapy
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Any other foreseeable losses

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2020 is one of the most active storm seasons ever in the waters around the State of Florida, the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea.


Florida Property insurance policies typically have two deductibles. A standard deductible for most losses; and a hurricane deductible. The standard “Other Perils” deductible is for pretty much anything covered by the policy, such as fire, pipe bursts and appliance related water damage claims, or windstorms, etc. The hurricane deductible only applies to named Hurricanes. The last major hurricane to hit Florida was Hurricane Michael in the panhandle on October 10, 2018; and more recently in the western portions of the Florida panhandle for Hurricane Sally on September 16, 2020, and Hurricane Zeta on October 28, 2020. Hurricane deductibles are typically 2 or 3 percent of the limit of the insurance for the home which is a lot higher than the standard deductible for all other claims. The Eta storm of November 2020 started off in South Florida counties like Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County as a Tropical Storm (not a hurricane). But as storms in Florida do, things changed, and the weather system chased west back into the Gulf of Mexico where it was reclassified as a Hurricane for a short period of time before heading back to the Nature Coast across Florida again as a Tropical Storm.

key-west-81664_1920-1-300x199DON’T GET FOOLED BY YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY!

First, an insurer may rush to slap a hurricane deductible on your claim when it should not apply because a Tropical Storm is not a hurricane. Second (and this is really the most important!), Insurers in Florida have often told their customers after a storm that unless they absolutely know that their damage is more than their hurricane deductible, then they should not even put in a claim. There are many reasons why this is terrible advice and a bad business practice by insurance companies. As the policyholder, it is not your job to know the exact amount of damage you have in the weeks following a severe storm. You also may discover that the storm caused much more damage than you initially thought or could see in the days following the hurricane. Many Floridians have fallen for the insurers gambit only to attempt to make their claims later on and be told its too late to make the claim.

If you believe you have Hurricane or Tropical Storm damage from any of these strong weather systems that brought havoc to Florida, please call us and we can assist you in determining which deductible applies, assist you with determining the actual extent of the damage to your home, and provide needed guidance through the process with your insurance company.

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A 64-year-old New Port Richey motorcyclist was killed Tuesday around 1:30 p.m. when another motorist executed a left turn in front of him on State Road 54. 

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the motorcyclist was travelling west on State Road 54 when an 86-year-old woman coming from the east turned left in front of him. 

The motorcycle and the car smashed into each other and came to a halt in the intersection. The motorcyclist was wearing a helmet and was taken to the hospital, which is where he passed away. 

motorcycle-689316_1280-300x210The female driver involved suffered minor injuries and her 88-year-old passenger, both from New Port Richey, suffered no harm, according to reports. 

An investigation into the crash is currently underway.  

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported that 4,985 motorcyclists were killed in 2018. Overall, motorcyclists make up 14% of all traffic fatalities and are 28 times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision when compared to drivers in passenger vehicles. 

If you own a motorcycle and live in Florida, then you know that you can enjoy pretty much year-round riding. While cruising the open road can be exhilarating, it can be equally dangerous. Even the safest of motorcyclists – those that have excellent balance, coordination, and exercise great judgement – can find themselves involved in a collision with a negligent driver sharing the road. 

Driving a car and riding a motorcycle require two very different skill sets. This is why the state of Florida requires new motorcycle riders to pass a basic skills course and obtain a motorcycle license endorsement. Anyone that operates a motorcycle in the state of Florida without an endorsement is in violation of the law. With that said, the NHTSA also found that in 2017 29% of motorcyclists involved in fatal accidents were operating their motorcycles without a valid motorcycle license. 

As we mentioned before, operating a motorcycle requires practice and skill. Before you take your bike out on the road you want to make sure you feel confident in controlling the bike and can handle it in any type of condition, such as inclement weather and various road hazards, like wet or slick streets, road debris, and potholes. 

Another good tip is to check that your bike is in good working order before taking it out. Check the tire pressure, hand and foot brakes, signal indicators, headlights, and fluid levels before taking your bike for a spin. Always check for oil or gas leaks. If you need to carry a bag or other cargo with you on your ride, then you need to secure it to the bike and adjust the tire pressure and suspension so that the added weight is accommodated properly. On that same note, if you have a passenger, then they need to mount the motorcycle after the engine has started and sit directly behind you as far forward as possible. Your passenger needs to be told to keep their feet on the foot rests at all times and steer clear of the muffler. Your passenger should hold on to your waist, belt, or even hips and try to limit their movement. If you need to lean, then your passenger should lean in the same direction as you. Finally, a passenger should only dismount once you tell them it is safe to do so. 

When you are on the road, always wear a helmet that meets the requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). There will be a DOT symbol on the back of the helmet to let you know it is approved. If you are in the market for a new helmet, the NHTSA can help you choose one that is right for you.

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The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office saved five men who were stranded in the Gulf of Mexico after their boat capsized Saturday. 

None of the men suffered any injuries. 

According to reports, the group of men were about 15 miles off the shore when they called for help. 

The U.S. Coast Guard also helped with the rescue.

The good news is that all the men were wearing their life jackets, which is a great reminder to everyone how important it is to be safe when on the water. 

According to the Coast Guard’s 2019 Recreational Boating Statistics, there were a total of 4,168 boat crashes that resulted in 613 deaths. In this same year, another 2,559 injuries were reported as well as a whopping $55 million in property damage all due to recreational boating accidents. The Coast Guard also found that 79% of recreational boating deaths involved victims who drowned. Furthermore, 86% of fatal drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket. 

Nothing beats a hot sunny day on the water, and Pasco County is a great area for year-long boating activities. However, just one tiny slip up and a fun-filled day can turn into a nightmare in a matter of seconds. Anytime you head out on the water you want to be as prepared as possible. Our Pasco County Boating Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want to remind you of the following safety tips. 

Boat safety starts before you even get on the water. You want to make sure your vessel is in good working condition before taking it out. This means you need to regularly inspect your boat for properly working steering, throttle, fuel and battery lines, and all switches and cables. If you have not taken your boat out in a while, you want to properly inspect it and be thorough before you get it on the water. 

Life jackets are a must for every single passenger. Every person on your watercraft needs to wear a life jacket. This is a non negotiable, as having one on can save your life, as this article shows. You want the life jackets to be kept in places that are easily accessible. You also need to inspect them often to make sure they are not ripped, torn, or otherwise defective. You also want to be aware of the laws regarding life jackets in Florida. For children under the age of 6: They must wear a USCG-approved life jacket while on boats that are under 26 feet in length on Florida waterways. Everyone on board a personal watercraft or being towed by a PWC must also wear a USCG-approved life jacket at all times. 

Pay attention to the weather and prepare yourself accordingly. A severe thunderstorm can quickly turn a nice day into a dangerous one. If severe warning is on the radar, consider taking your boat out another day. Once dark clouds are hanging over your vessel, it is usually too late to get back to shore safely. 

Do not drink and operate a boat. Just like driving a car, drinking while boating is dangerous and can prevent you from being able to operate a vessel safely. Likewise, drinking large amounts of alcohol can hinder your balance, and that combined with a rocky boat can easily lead to passengers falling overboard. 

Keep an eye on your boat’s weight. An overloaded boat can lead to a capsized boat. Your boat weight needs to be evenly distributed. You want to secure your anchor to the front of the boat (the bow). When the boat is moving at fast speeds, remind passengers to stay seated so that they can avoid falling overboard. 

Follow appropriate traffic guidelines. Be advised that larger boats like fishing boats, sailboats, etc. have the right away. It is best to stay to the right when approaching another vessel. You always want to yield to the boat that is on the right. 

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skate-629740_640-150x150A 14-year-old died Tuesday morning in New Port Richey after being struck by a vehicle while riding a bicycle. 

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the crash involved a Jeep and happened at Moon Lake Road and Slidell Street just after 7 a.m. 

The child was transported to an area hospital but later died due to the injuries suffered in the crash. The child was a 9th grader at River Ridge High School.

The crash remains under investigation and authorities are asking drivers to avoid the area. 

At this time, no charges have been filed.

Anytime a child is hit by a car while riding their bike, it is every parent’s worst nightmare come true. Sadly, a child’s bicycle is no match for the mass and velocity of a full-sized car, so when these accidents occur, serious injuries and/or death are often the result. 

In most of these accidents, the chances are, the driver didn’t mean to hit your child. They may have been rolling too fast through a stop sign, texting while driving, or just simply failing to pay attention to their surroundings. 

If your child is struck by a car, your next steps are very important. Our Pasco County Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have compiled a list to help you think fast and preserve critical evidence. 

  • Take Care of Your Child’s Injuries/get them to the hospital
  • Keep the accident site intact 
  • Establish Witnesses
  • Call the Police
  • Collect Driver Information
  • Take Photographs
  • Talk to the Police
  • Hire an Attorney

The first, and most obvious thing, is to tend to your child’s injuries. There is a very high chance that they will be badly scraped up and bruised from impacting the car, but they could also have broken bones, a concussion, dislocated joints, or other very serious injuries after the crash. Do everything you can for your child and, if necessary, prepare to call an ambulance to take them directly to a hospital.

Whenever possible, try not to disturb the bicycle’s location too much while treating your child as this can be an important detail for later. You want to make a mental note of where your child was exactly after the crash. 

The next step is to identify any witnesses and get their accounts of the accident. You will want them to make a report to police once they arrive at the scene. If witnesses can’t stay because they need to be somewhere, collect their names and contact information so they can be called about the incident later on.

The driver should remain at the scene and speak with the police. If they leave, the accident escalates to a hit-and-run. 

Once the police are called, it’s time to make sure you have all the information you will need in the future. You need to get the driver’s full name, license plate number, and the details of their insurance policy. Try and take a picture of both sides of their insurance card so you can confirm the details later on.

We strongly recommend not conversing with the driver other than gathering their information. Don’t say anything accusatory, don’t ask for an apology. You do not want to say something that can jeopardize a legal case because you are upset after an accident. The less you and the driver talk (aside from exchanging information) the better. 

If your child is suffering from significant injuries beyond a few easily healed scrapes and bruises, then you need to call an attorney. While the law will hold the driver responsible for any criminal actions like driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will need legal help to hold them personally responsible for the damage done to your child. This is where our Pasco County Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can be your best ally.

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Recent recalls of popular antacids, such as Zantac and its generic version, ranitidine, as well as another drug, nizatidine, have left many patients suffering from heartburn with a loss of what to do. 

While these drugs are no longer available at pharmacies, they may still be in your medicine cabinet. Our Pasco County Zantac Lawsuit Attorneys at Whittel & Melton want you to be informed on what to do. 

Here is what has been recalled and why: 

Companies that make the antacids ranitidine and nizatidine (brand name: Axid) have voluntarily recalled more than a dozen lots of unexpired medications in 150 mg and 300 mg strengths. Exact lot numbers of the recalled drugs can be found on the FDA’s website.

The FDA said the medicines may contain “unacceptable” amounts of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a substance the World Health Organization has classified as a “probable human carcinogen.”

Valisure, an online pharmacy that analyzes every batch of medications it receives, first discovered the elevated NDMA levels in samples of ranitidine. 

Due to the molecular makeup of ranitidine, when it is exposed to heat, it breaks down and forms NDMA. It can breakdown in as little as 15 minutes and form NDMA, according to researchers. In theory, ranitidine could develop the toxin while in hot delivery vehicles, or even stored in steamy bathrooms.

Should you be concerned? 

None of the recalled lots has been associated with any illnesses or injuries. FDA testing of recalled ranitidine detected NDMA levels similar to the amounts found in grilled and smoked meats. Doctors have reported that the link between NDMA and the development of cancer is still misunderstood by many, but patients should discuss this with their physicians. 

Are there alternatives to the recalled medications?

Due to the fact that so many people rely on Zantac for heartburn relief, there are similar drugs on the market that could help. Sales of over-the-counter and prescription ranitidine topped $221 million in 2018 alone, according to the pharmaceutical research firm IQVIA. 

Other heartburn medications, such as famotidine (Pepcid), cimetidine (Tagamet), esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid) and omeprazole (Prilosec) have not tested positive for signs of NDMA.

Heartburn drugs work to reduce stomach acid, but lifestyle changes can help, too. Losing a few pounds, even as little as two to three BMI points, can significantly improve symptoms, quitting smoking, and cutting back on dietary fat can also help.

The condition that usually causes severe cases of heartburn is called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. It occurs when the valve that separates the esophagus and the stomach opens when it’s not supposed to. When that happens, the contents of your stomach, which naturally contains a lot of acid, travels into the esophagus.

Because GERD is essentially a valve problem, nighttime heartburn patients can slightly elevate the head of their bed, and sleep on their left side for relief. When you lay on your left side, the faulty valve is positioned in a way that separates it from food and acid, which means less stomach acid will back up into the esophagus.

What if your heartburn will not go away?

Occasional heartburn is common, especially after big meals, and usually is not serious. But sometimes, that burning sensation can indicate something more serious, such as ulcers, bleeding or an inflammation of the lining of the esophagus.

Gastroenterologists recommend contacting your doctor’s office if your heartburn won’t go away after two weeks, you’re having trouble swallowing, or your heartburn is causing nausea and vomiting.

Zantac Cancer Lawsuits 

The first Zantac lawsuit filed against the drugmaker Sanofi was filed in California on the same day the FDA published its safety warning. Since then, there have been other suits. Plaintiffs say that the drugmaker had an obligation to know about the potential for contamination and to advise the medical community of the danger.

Anyone who regularly used Zantac for an extended period of time and has since been diagnosed with cancer can file a claim. Any Zantac users that have suffered acute damage to their liver can also file suit. The following cancers are known to be caused by NDMA exposure:

  • Stomach Cancer
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Liver Cancer
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Uterine Cancer
  • Small Intestine Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Esophageal Cancer

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A deadly hit-and-run crash last week shut down part of Little Road in New Port Richey overnight.

The crash happened just after 1 a.m. at Little Road and Heritage Lakes Boulevard. 

Florida Highway Patrol says a vehicle, believed to be a 2001 to 2004 Toyota Tacoma in silver, white or light grey color, hit a person trying to cross Little Road near the Heritage Lakes Boulevard intersection, then continued going north on Little Road. 

FHP had the northbound lanes of Little Road shut down for hours from St. Lawrence Drive to Heritage Lakes Boulevard while they investigated. 

The road reopened around 6:45 a.m. 

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call FHP at 813-558-1800.

In recent years, Florida has earned the title of being one of the worst states for pedestrian safety. Of the 20 deadliest U.S. cities for pedestrians, 9 are in Florida. Orlando ranks as the least safe for pedestrians and the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metropolis takes the number 14 position, according to a report from Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition.

Pedestrians are injured and killed every day across the United States. So, why is Florida so unsafe for pedestrians? There is no single reason why and multiple factors contribute to why pedestrians are at such a higher risk to be struck by vehicles. 

In the U.S. data has shown that pedestrian deaths have increased by 35.7 percent from 2008 to 2017. During this ten year period, a total of 49,340 pedestrians were killed. If you break it down, the numbers equate to 13 pedestrian fatalities every single day for the whole country. 

As far as Florida pedestrian accidents go, there were 5,433 pedestrian deaths between 2008 and 2017, which averages out to 2.73 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people. The Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) calculated in the report is 182.0. The U.S. as a whole shows an average of 1.55 deaths per 100,000 people and a 55.3 PDI. The numbers show that Florida doubles the national statistics.  

Orlando had 656 pedestrian deaths over 10 years with a PDI of 313.3 and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach had 1,549 pedestrian deaths and a PDI of 153.5. To put this into better perspective, New York City-Newark is one of the most heavily walked metropolitan areas in the country, but only has a PDI of 27.1. Washington D.C. has a PDI of 39.7 and Chicago 34.5.

Pedestrians continue to be struck and killed every day in the United States. While not every pedestrian accident results in a fatality, many do. For those that survive a pedestrian accident, they may be left battling chronic pain and suffering for the rest of their lives. Their injuries could result in them losing their jobs and experience a reduced quality of life because their injuries keep them from the activities they love. 

Every person should be able to walk to a destination without the fear of being struck by a speeding, drunk, or distracted driver. Our Pasco County Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help those who have been injured in pedestrian accidents, as well as the families of those who have been tragically killed. We can help you seek financial compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more.

The laws in Florida are designed to protect those who become injury victims due to the negligence of another. When a pedestrian is injured through the fault of a motorist, that pedestrian may be entitled to bring a claim for their damages in an effort to obtain financial relief.

In the event that the at-fault driver fled the scene and cannot be located, pedestrians are not necessarily simply out of luck. It is possible for a claim to still be made on the pedestrian’s behalf that could allow them to recover for actual losses like medical and surgical bills incurred as well as less tangible damages including pain and suffering, loss of a normal life, and permanency of damages.

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A teenage girl was struck by a car in New Port Richey and was airlifted to a hospital as a trauma alert. 

The accident happened around 10:45 a.m. Monday morning on Madison Street. 

Residents believe a narrow sidewalk on a busy street is at least partly to blame. 

Pasco County Fire Rescue says the teenage girl suffered from a head injury and was flown to a hospital as a trauma alert. 

Residents say this is the second student to be struck by a car on Madison Street this year.

Residents agree that speeding is a problem on the busy street. 

There is currently no update on the teen’s condition or who is to blame for the accident. 

In 2016, 5,987 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes across the United States. These statistics mean that on average, one pedestrian is killed every 1.5 hours. Every year in the United States, at least 100 children are killed in collisions while walking to or from school. Nearly half of all pedestrian deaths of children in or near school zones involve kids who are 15 or older.

Around Florida schools the speed limit is 20 mph. Special speed limit signs are posted around schools to alert you as you enter the zone. These signs have flashing lights to tell you when the lower speed limit is in effect, and there is a sign to indicate when you have left the school zone. 

When drivers failure to obey the school zone speed limits, accidents can and do occur. When traveling 20-25 mph, the stopping distance for an average vehicle and a driver with average reaction times is at least 56 feet. At 35 mph, the stopping distance is at least 95 feet. When drivers travel at a normal speed instead of slowing down in school zones, they add 40 feet to their stopping distance.

According to Florida’s State Uniform Traffic Control Law, a pedestrian is defined as any person travelling on foot. Pedestrians are required to obey the instructions of any traffic control device or police officer. Pedestrians are also required by law to use a sidewalk when provided and are not permitted to walk on the paved road. If there is no sidewalk present, pedestrians are required to walk only on the shoulder on the left side of the road facing traffic approaching from the opposite direction.

If your child or teen is walking to or from school or bus stops, especially in heavy traffic areas, it is extremely important to go over safety points with them, including:

  • Do not walk distracted. Keep your head up and stay off your phone, so that you can keep an eye on traffic at all times.
  • Do not wear headphones and turn any music off. It is very important to be able to  hear what is going on around you like screeching tires, horns, sirens, or other audible indicators an accident might occur.
  • Always use crosswalks when they are available. Look left and right before crossing and continuously scan traffic while crossing.
  • Be alert and watch oncoming traffic when crossing roadways, even when you are legally crossing in a designated crosswalk with the walk sign lit. Not every vehicle will stop behind the white line, so it is important to pause at each lane and make eye contact with the driver to make sure that they see you and are stopping to allow you to pass.
  • When sidewalks are not available, walk facing traffic, as far from the road as possible. Look out for oncoming traffic that may swerve, because the driver is distracted or engaging in any type of dangerous driving behavior. 

In any pedestrian accident, it is almost always the person walking who suffers the worst. When a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle, they are at risk of:

  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Back Injury
  • Broken Bones
  • Facial Injuries
  • Internal Injuries

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National Teen Driver Safety Week, which runs from October 20-26, is a great time to address teenage driver safety. As parents, you have a lot of power over your children’s decisions. Research shows that parents are the biggest influence on their teens’ behavior behind the wheel.

Every year thousands of teens are injured or killed in motor vehicle crashes. In fact, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic crashes are a leading cause of death for teens 15 to 18 years old. In 2017, the most recent data available, 755 teen drivers died in crashes, and a total of 2,038 teen drivers were involved in crashes where someone in the vehicle died.

Teenage passengers are more likely to be injured in a car being driven by a peer. Some of this has to do with general distraction. The high rate of crashes among teen drivers is caused primarily by their lack of maturity and driving experience coupled with overconfidence and risk-taking, according to the NHTSA. New drivers are more likely to take eyes and attention off of the road, increasing crash risks.

To try and decrease the risks that teen drivers pose to themselves and others, the state of Florida has implemented a graduated drivers license (GDL). Teen drivers must obtain their learner’s permit first and then they can graduate to receiving their driver’s license, granted they meet the requirements.

To get your Learner’s Permit in the state of Florida, teens must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 15 years old
  • Provide proof of completion of a Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education Course
  • Provide parental consent form if under 18 and required documents for proof of identity
  • Complete your permit exam
  • Pass a vision and hearing test

Once you obtain a learner’s permit in Florida you have some driving privileges, but they are restricted. The rules for operating a motor vehicle with a learner’s permit are as follows:

  • You must be accompanied by a licensed driver in the front passenger seat at all times. This driver must be 21 years of age or older.
  • You can only drive during daylight hours for the first 3 months from the date you receive your permit.
  • After the initial 3 months, you are permitted to drive between the hours of 6:00 am and 10:00 pm.

If you are under the age of 18, the following rules apply to getting your driver’s license:

  • You’ve had no moving traffic citations within 12 months of the issuance of your permit. (You may have 1 traffic violation where adjudication is withheld. Adjudication withheld is when you are not convicted of the offense, while still being held guilty).
  • Your parent or legal guardian, or a responsible adult 21 years or older, has certified you’ve completed at least 50 hours of driving experience, including 10 hours at night.
  • You must pass a driving test.

It is a great idea to use National Teen Driver Safety Week as a way to discuss the potential road dangers that could affect your teen driver. The best thing you can do is enforce the rules of the road.

The Rules of the Road

Wear seat belts

The car should not even be started until everyone is buckled up. It does not matter if you are sitting in the front seat or back seat or even how far you are going — everyone in the vehicle should always wear a seat belt. Over half of the passengers killed in cars driven by teen drivers in recent years failed to wear a seat belt.

Drive sober

It is illegal to drink before you are 21, and driving drunk or under the influence of drugs is illegal at any age. In 2017, almost one out of five teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking.

Do not get distracted

Focus on the only task you need to – driving. Do not use your phone to text or talk, and refrain from doing anything else, like eating, drinking, or fixing hair and makeup. About 10% of all teen drivers involved in fatal crashes in recent years were distracted at the time of the crash. Encourage your teen driver to activate the “do not disturb” feature on their phone to eliminate the distractions notifications cause.

Follow the speed limit

In 2017, almost one-third of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding. When you speed, you limit the extra reaction time you need to avoid a collision. Every driver must obey posted speed limits.

Extra passengers are not a good idea

Teen drivers are at a greater risk for a crash when they have other people in their car. This extra cargo can be a distraction to novice drivers.

As parents, don’t forget that you are a role model. When your teen driver sees you following the rules of the road, then they are more likely to do the same. If you break the rules, then they think it is OK to as well.

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A teenager remains in the hospital in serious condition Tuesday morning after being struck by a vehicle while walking to school in New Port Richey. 

According to Pasco Fire Rescue, the incident happened around 7 a.m. at the intersection of Schrader Blvd and Little Rd in New Port Richey near Fivay High School.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a 16-year-old boy was walking across the northbound lanes of Little Road when he was hit by a Ford F150 driven by a 57-year-old man. The teen was listed as a trauma alert and transported to Bayonet Point Medical Center in Port Richey. 

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