Published On: Wed, May 18th, 2016

The Push for Safety in Boca Raton

By: Alyssa Lamp

Over the past year, Olympic Heights High School has had five deaths among their students.

One just recently was Victoria Jane Edwards. She was in the passenger seat when the car drifted into the path of a Ford Econoline.

In late February of this year, Olympic Heights lost another student in a car accident that may have been caused by texting.

Motor Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among high school teens.

In 2015, AAA did a video analysis and found that 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes were caused by distractions.

Florida has a mass epidemic of distracted driving all over, and unfortunately, florida has some of the weakest traffic safety laws in the US.

Florida remains one of five states that treats texting and driving as a secondary offense. Meaning, the person must be pulled over for speeding, driving reckless, etc. before a texting citation can be given.

But one man is trying to make a change, Irv Slosberg, a member of the Florida House of Representatives from the 91st district, is trying to pave the way for safer highways.

“We need tougher road safety laws,” Slosberg says, “the legislatures are very Libertarian and does not want cops in their cars, they want their privacy. So it’s very hard to get any more laws passed.”

For five years, Rep. Irv Slosberg begged his fellow legislators to strengthen Florida’s seat belt law. With the help of Laura Marchetti, in 2009 it was passed.

The Slosberg’s passion for highway safety comes from losing a family member, Dori [Irv’s daughter]. Dori died in a car accident because of not wearing a seatbelt at 14. The car had eight teens piled in when the driver, Nicholas Copertino, lost control on Palmetto Park Road and collided with another car, killing five children.

Marchetti also lost her daughter, Katie, in a car accident from also not wearing a seatbelt, in 2006.

Losing a loved one, gave the families a fire inside to get the bill passed. It was not passed until May 2009 and it went into effect a month later. Traffic tickets skyrocketed after the change, keeping people safe just got a lot easier.

Now Irv is focusing on texting a driving. The Slosberg family created a foundation, “Dori Saves Lives”, which is actually saving lives. The foundation has many different programs to educate people about safety behind the wheel.

Irv is also behind State Sen. Maria Sachs’ bill to double citations for texting violations in school zones and designated crosswalks. He also wants to see texting and driving as a primary offense, and will keep fighting for this change.

Slosberg says “It’s not going to be easy, but I will fight until I see a change in the texting and driving law.”

A cell phone is an easy distraction, you can find yourself just reaching for it and not even realizing it.

Not all deaths at Olympic Heights were caused by texting. Sophomore Kayla Joy Farese passed away with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in August of last year; senior Lindsey Madore passed away after suffering a seizure in a hot tub in September, and junior James Cartigiano was killed by an accidental gunshot to the head in January.

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