Florida Strengthens Texting While Driving Laws

DistractedDriving

Driving while distracted is a growing concern throughout the United States. Over the years accidents caused by distracted drivers have increased significantly. Taking eyes off of the road, removing hands from the steering wheel, and even thinking about something other than driving are all considered distractions. Texting while driving can cause all three types of distractions to occur simultaneously, negatively impacting overall safety. Florida legislators are working to strengthen current texting while driving laws to make all roadways safer by reducing auto accidents.

Florida Texting While Driving Statistics

Florida currently leads the nation when it comes to accidents associated with distraction in general and texting in particular. Each April, Florida spends the month attempting to raise awareness of the dangers of driving while distracted. Texting while driving is given special attention since the high level of functions necessary to send a text is responsible for numerous accidents. Between 2013 and 2015 Florida issued over 3,400 citations for texting while driving.

The number of citations given is dwarfed by the number of vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving. In 2015 Florida recorded a total of 45,740 distracted driving accidents and 214 distracted driving-related deaths. Approximately 12 percent of drivers involved in these reporting crashes were teenagers. Now that 70 percent of drivers own cell phones, the risk of distraction has grown exponentially.

Proposed Florida Texting While Driving Changes

During 2016 Florida has seen a spike in traffic collisions, and auto insurers are saying distracted drivers are partially responsible for the increases reported by the Florida Transportation Department. Though texting while driving is currently banned in Florida, it is a secondary offense.  Police officers are not able to pull over drivers solely based on driving while distracted. The driver can only receive a citation for texting while driving if he or she is pulled over for another reason.

The new bill removes language in the existing bill that makes driving while texting a secondary offense in Florida. Law enforcement officers will have the ability to pull over any driver they suspect of engaging in texting while driving. Violating the law in a school zone or at a school crossing will result in a doubling of any fines under the proposed changes. A second bill proposes making texting while driving a primary offense for all minor drivers. Both bills are sponsored by Emily Slosberg, a representative who lost her identical twin sister in a traffic accident that claimed the lives five teenagers and paralyzed a sixth.

Injured in an Accident?

If you or someone you love has suffered an injury during an auto accident caused by a distracted driver, let John Piccin and Katie Glynn at Piccin & Glynn help. They have decades of experience handling auto accident cases and are prepared to answer your questions, negotiate with insurance companies. John and Katie successfully resolved a motor vehicle collision case for his client winning a $2,700,000 settlement and can provide a free consultation to discuss your own needs. Conveniently located in Ocala, they are able to meet you in the hospital or at your home to provide the support you need. Contact the office today at 800-969-5446 or 352-351-5446 to schedule your appointment.

Resources:

flhsmv.gov/safety-center/driving-safety/distracted-driving/

clickorlando.com/getting-results-/driving-change/florida-lawmaker-calls-for-stronger-texting-while-driving-law

floridapolitics.com/archives/228608-emily-slosberg-files-bill-strengthen-texting-driving-law

flhsmv.gov/pdf/distracted/textingcitations_bycounty_2013-2015.pdf

myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=56653

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