Florida Legislative Ban on Texting While Driving

After four years of thinking about whether or not to ban texting, the Florida legislature has sent a texting-while-driving ban to Florida Governor Rick Scott this week. The House voted 110-6 to pass the ban, while the Senate voted 39-1 to approve the bill that the House had amended.

Critics of the ban say that this ban is a watered-down bill. It makes texting while driving a secondary offense, rather than a primary one. In other words, a driver has to also violate another law in order to be pulled over for texting. A driver who violates the ban for the first time can only be fined $30.00 plus court costs.

The ban permits cellphone records to be used as evidence only if an accident causes a death or personal injury. While this latter point is good news for those who have suffered a personal injury, it does not help those who are killed as a result of others’ negligence in texting while driving. This is a big enough problem in Florida that the ban probably should have been stronger. Thirty-nine states and D.C. already ban texting.

Most of us know someone who texts while he or she drives, even though studies show that texting while driving is incredibly dangerous. One in 7 adults has admitted he or she texts while driving. Texting while driving diverts a driver’s visual, manual and cognitive attention away from the road. In 2011, 23% of car crashes (which comes out to equal approximately 1.3 million) involved cell phone use. That year, 3,331 people in the United States were killed by a distracted driver (not just including those who texted, but anybody whose attention was fixed on something other than driving).

A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute installed cameras in the cabs of long-haul trucks for 18 months and found that texting makes a crash 23 times more likely. This means it is riskier than talking to someone who is in the car, reaching for something in the car, or dialing a phone number. The study also found that sending or receiving a text requires a driver to look away from the road for 4.6 seconds on average. This equals driving blind at 55 mph for the length of a football field.

Some researchers have found that being a pedestrian in Florida can be a more dangerous experience than in many other places in the United States. A survey by Transportation for America reported in 2011 that four Florida cities (Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Miami-Fort Lauderdale) were the most dangerous large metro areas for pedestrians.

In 2007 in Florida, there were 256,206 crashes, or 702 crashes on average per day. The number fell slightly in 2009, with 235,776 accidents out of which 197,214 (83.64%) led to personal injuries. If someone was texting while driving and as a result hurt you or a loved one, they may be responsible for any damages their negligent actions caused, including your medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses.

If you have been seriously hurt in a car accident, call the hardworking South Florida car accident attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank to speak to an experienced attorney about your case at (877) 448-8585.

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