Americans are known for their love of driving. We have a love affair with our cars and being able to pick up and go whenever and wherever we want. But it seems that we have a new love affair … with our phones. Many people will jump to answer a ping from their phone, even while driving. As of October 1, 2013, Florida joined 40 other states that ban texting while driving.
The number of news reports about accidents caused while someone was texting has been increasing over the past few years. “There were 256,443 reported crashes in Florida in 2012. In 4,841 of those crashes, a driver had been texting or otherwise using an “electronic communication device” while driving, according to a preliminary report from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.”
Some people may see checking their phone while driving as no big deal, yet a moving car can be a deadly weapon. “Drivers who text take their eyes off the road for almost five seconds, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates the trucking industry. At 55 mph, a driver can cross the equivalent of a football field while not looking.” In a hundred yards, a car can hit a tree, cross into oncoming traffic, move over lanes and push another person off the road, or hit a pedestrian. And then that driver becomes a statistic as another accident caused by texting.
“Texting while driving [is] a secondary offense, which means drivers may only be ticketed if they are pulled over for other infractions.” But if a driver is stopped at a red light or in stopped traffic, then the driver can text without facing an offense. There are exceptions to this ban: “the use of GPS devices, talk-to-text technology and for reporting criminal behavior.”
There are some commentators who say the fines spelled out in the law are not harsh enough. “A first violation is a $30 fine plus court costs. A second or subsequent violation within five years adds three points to the driver’s license and carries a $60 fine.” But the sponsor of the legislation believes it will be a deterrent to teenage beginner drivers.
Public Service Announcement Push
Florida is planning on broadcasting this new law to attempt to reduce the number of crashes on our roads. “The Department of Transportation plans to remind drivers about the ban through its digital billboards along state highways.”
Not only will there be public announcements, but there will be a large focus on those most prone to texting and driving: teenagers. “The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles also plans to target teenage drivers to remind them about the ban. The agency is running a public service announcement in 69 high schools across the state on Tuesday [October 1] and again on Oct. 15.”
While we, as attorneys, would prefer drivers to follow the law and not text and drive, there are those who will ignore the law. If you were injured by a texting driver, contact our knowledgeable attorneys to review your situation and determine your rights.
The attorneys at Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, P.A. will provide a free, no obligation consultation at our offices in Dade, Broward or Monroe County. If you are unable to travel, we can see you at your home, hospital, or other location which is convenient for you. Contact us for further information.