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New Revision To Texting While Driving Affects School Zones and Work Zones

The statistics on cell phone-related automobile distracted driving deaths are staggering.  Moreover, most would agree that if the driver was not distracted with a phone, an accident and death would not have occurred.  Accordingly, lawmakers have struggled to pass reasonable laws to fix this problem.  Overall, in 2015, there were 3,263 distracted driving deaths, as compared with 48,613 motor vehicle fatalities – comprising 7% of all fatalities. In Florida, the teenage population experienced an increase in injuries of 18 percent, while fatalities have increased 30 percent in 2015 alone.  As of 2019, these statistics have only stayed the same or gotten worse.

Lawmakers in Florida have passed a law that makes it illegal to have a cell phone out while in a designated school crossing, school zone, or active work zone area when driving a vehicle. While Florida earlier this year outlawed texting while behind the wheel, the new law bans all hand-held use of phones while driving, including no scrolling through newsfeeds or holding a phone to your ear.  However, as of October 1, 2019, if a police officer sees you with a phone in your hand in designated school crossing, school zone, or active work zone area, whether holding it to your ear or simply scrolling through it, you can be pulled over.  Police will start warning drivers on October 1st and will begin ticketing violators on January 1, 2020.

This new law could very well be costly on Florida drivers.  The cost of the ticket is $60.00 per violation and will cost the driver three points on their driver’s license.  As such, drivers should start to curb their driving habits of using cell phones while driving long before January of 2020.

This law may be a good thing for Florida.  School crossing zones, school zones and work zones are areas that require a driver to be alert and paying attention to the road.  Given the presence of young children and workers, these areas can present unexpected and quickly changing driving conditions such as a child crossing a street or a worker walking on or near a road.  It is expected that this law, once in effect, will make a significant change in the cell phone automobile injuries and deaths in the State of Florida.

This blog is written by Firm Partner Chad Hastings.

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