Florida has joined a growing number of states to ban texting while driving. As of today, October 1, 2013, it is illegal to text while driving in our state. Governor Rick Scott signed the bill into law at a South Florida high school in May.
The new law makes texting while driving a secondary offense, meaning you will not get pulled over solely for texting and driving. Drivers must be stopped for a different violation, such as speeding or not wearing a seat belt, before being ticketed for texting while driving. On their first offense, drivers will be fined $30; a second offense earns drivers at $60 fine, along with points possibly added to their driving record.
The governor signed the bill at a high school to send a message to teenagers about the dangers of texting and driving, citing that the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the deadliest days on the road for teens.
Representative Irving Slosberg was instrumental in getting Florida to adopt the new law. He made it his mission to ban texting while driving in Florida after he lost his own daughter in a car accident.
But young drivers are not the only age group that texts while driving. The American Association of Automobiles (AAA) reports that two-thirds of drivers admitted to reading a text or email while on the road.
It is not surprising that more than 4,500 accidents were caused by distracting driving during 2012. Of those auto accidents, 255 were linked directly to texting. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, five seconds is the average amount of time a driver’s eyes are off the road while texting. Traveling at 55 miles per hour, that is enough time to travel the length of an entire football field.
The new law will allow cell phone records to be used as evidence in a car wreck investigation. Law enforcers will be able to see if texting was relevant and if it was a factor in the accident.
Some traffic safety advocates want the law to be harsher, making texting while driving a primary offense. Others believe the new law will be difficult to enforce. The new law bans manual texting only when driving, but allows texting when drivers are stopped in traffic or at traffic lights.
Whether the new law will actually curtail the number of drivers who text while on the road is yet to be determined. We can all do our part to make the roads safer by turning off or silencing our cell phones while driving. No text is worth endangering yourself and others on the road.
Written by Elizabeth Allen
If you or a family member has been involved in a car accident because of someone else’s negligence, such as texting while driving, contact our car accident attorneys in Jacksonville for a free consultation. You pay nothing unless our firm is able to make a recovery on your behalf.