Distracted driving continues to be a problem nationwide, and Florida is reported as the second worst state in the nation when it comes to distracted driving crashes. According to state statistics, between the years 2013 and 2017, the number of accidents caused by distracted driving went up by 33 percent. In 2017 alone, 6,972 distracted driving accidents were reported in Orange County.
Florida lawmakers are hoping to crack down on the problem with new legislation that was introduced in the state senate this week. The law, titled the “Florida Driving While Distracted Law,” aims to outlaw all forms of distracted driving behind the wheel.
The legislation was sponsored by Republican Senator Wilton Simpson. It has unanimously passed in the first two of four committee sessions where the measure has been heard. The legislation most recently cleared the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee after hearing emotional testimony from parents who lost children from accidents caused by distracted drivers.
Florida is only one of five states in the nation that does not allow law enforcement to pull over a driver for only texting and driving. Texting while driving is considered a secondary offense, meaning Florida law enforcement first must stop a driver for another offense – such as careless driving, if a vehicle was swerving or going too slow while the driver was texting. Florida lawmakers have made several attempts over the years to enact laws that would make the offense a primary one with no success.
The new legislation does allow for use of a hands-free device. Drivers would also be allowed to check their cell phones so long as the car is not in motion, including being stopped at a red light or being parked in a parking lot.
The law does include provisions that require law enforcement to document the race and ethnicity of the drivers who receive tickets. This measure was added after concerns were expressed that the ban on distracted driving would be used for racial profiling.
The new law expressly prohibits, “reading, writing, performing personal grooming, applying a beauty aid or similar products, interacting with pets or unsecured cargo, using a personal wireless communications device, or engaging in any other activity, conduct, task or action that causes distraction.” This last provision leaves a great deal of room for subjective interpretation by law enforcement in determining whether someone is “distracted” while driving.
If the legislation passes, the law would start with a three-month grace period where law enforcement would only issue warnings from October through December. After that time, they will be able to issue citations. Any citations issued would be for moving violations and would result in three points on the driver’s license. Drivers could elect to complete a distracted driving safety program in lieu of the points.
Georgia recently passed a similar law in July 2018 titled the “Hands-Free Law,” which allows law enforcement to issue $150 citations for every distracted driving offense. State officials say they have issued thousands of citations since the law went into effect.
Get the Help You Need After an Orlando Auto Accident with a Distracted Driver.
As a car accident attorney who handles these type cases every day, I advise that you put your cell phone away while driving, as it cuts down your ability to react quickly and appropriately to hazards around you. The consequences can be deadly, distracted driving is 100% preventable.
If you or a loved one has experienced an injury or fatality as the result of an automobile accident with a distracted driver, you need to contact an experienced Orlando Auto Accident Attorney immediately. Distracted driving can be difficult to prove in court. Our Orlando Car Accident Team is well equipped and armed with years of legal experience helping people file auto insurance claims. We can help you obtain maximum compensation for medical bills, future medical treatment, loss of wages, pain and suffering, etc. We also offer our clients The More for You Guarantee. Feel free to fill out our quick contact form on this page or call us right now at 407-490-1271 for your free consultation. Feel free to fill out our quick contact form on our website to discuss your legal options in greater detail.