Currently, texting while driving is only a secondary violation in the state of Florida. In other words, a motorist cannot be stopped and cited merely for texting while driving. Instead, the motorist must be stopped for a primary offense—such as speeding—at which point that motorist can be cited for texting while driving. However, according to a recent report in the Claims Journal, the Florida legislature considered a complete ban on texting while driving.
In other words, lawmakers thought about making this a primary offense in the state. If texting while driving became a primary offense, law enforcement officials would be able to stop drivers for the sheer act of texting and issue a citation. A first offense would result in a fine of $30. What else do you need to know about the recently proposed texting-while-driving legislation?
Texting While Driving Can Produce Motorist Behavior That Looks Like Drunk Driving
To reduce car accidents, legislators in the state of Florida need to consider ways of reducing the number of drivers who are texting behind the wheel. As the report explains, texting while driving can be so hazardous that motorists who are using handheld smartphones to write or read texts often look like alcohol-impaired drivers to law enforcement officials.
Indeed, one member of the Florida Highway Patrol explained that “it is hard to separate texting drivers from drunken drivers” for the following reasons: “Both weave. They speed up and slow down for no obvious reason and get too close to other cars. They endanger their lives and others.”
Florida Legislature failed to pass Bill Aimed at Reducing Auto Accidents
Currently, there are 43 states in which texting while driving is a primary offense. Given the high number of auto accident deaths in Florida, some lawmakers believe a texting ban could reduce the number of serious and fatal crashes. In 2017, there were approximately 2,700 auto accident deaths in the state.
Studies are mixed concerning the effectiveness of texting bans. For instance, a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) showed that texting bans did not significantly reduce the rate of traffic collisions. At the same time, however, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama determined that texting bans result in a three percent decline in auto accident deaths.
While we may not know for certain if full texting-while-driving bans that make this behavior a primary offense can significantly reduce the rate of crashes, we do know that texting while driving results in at least 3,500 deaths each year across the country and approximately 400,000 injuries. The question is whether texting bans actually prevent motorists from texting behind the wheel.
Although the Florida House overwhelmingly passed a bill that would make texting while driving a primary offense, efforts to do so in the Senate stalled. Rest assured, the debate will continue and future bills will be directed at texting while driving.
Seek Advice from a Boca Raton Car Accident Lawyer
Were you injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver? You should speak with a Boca Raton auto accident lawyer to learn more about filing a claim for compensation. Contact Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith PLLC for more information about the services we provide to clients in South Florida.