Texting and Driving Illegal under New Florida Law
Cell phones have, without a doubt, made us safer – they have caught crimes on camera, allowed us to stay on the phone with a friend as we walk home late at night, etc. Cell phones have also made traveling in cars safer. Twenty-five years ago, if your car broke down on a deserted road, you were out of luck until you walked to the closest town or were helped by a passerby. Now, if your car breaks down, you can stay inside your vehicle (safely) and call for help (immediately).
Just as every rose has its thorn, the list of effects of cell phones is a double-edged sword – especially when it comes to driving. While cell phones may reassure us that, should our car break down, help is never far away, they also drastically increase the likelihood that we will need help in the first place.
According to the FCC, which compiled results from a number of agencies, the danger of texting and driving cannot be understated. The result of an NHTSA study reveals that in 2010, nearly 1 in 5 fatal crashes were caused by a distracted driver. According to a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study, texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to crash than you would be if you were not distracted. Many states in the U.S. – an overwhelming majority of them, in fact – have laws against texting and driving. Florida, the Sunshine State, which has not been a leader on this front, is finally catching up.
On Tuesday, October 1st, 2013, a new Florida law geared at restricting texting while driving and promoting safety goes into effect. The law against texting while driving finally materialized after many failed attempts by state legislators to usher similar bills through Tallahassee. The fact that the new law is going into effect, finally, is certainly a big deal. But does the law go far enough?
While the new law makes texting while driving “illegal,” it provides that you can only be penalized for texting while driving if you’ve been pulled over for another infraction. In other words, this is a “secondary” offense, and a police officer cannot pull you over solely for texting while driving. That said, if they pull you over for something else, they could also nab you for texting and driving. Other criticism of the bill notes that a first time offense only yields a punishment of a $30 fine, not exactly a harsh deterrent. (For an article about the new law and its criticism, please visit this piece from the Daytona Beach News-Journal.)
Only time will tell if the new law is effective. Nevertheless, the new (if timid) law shows that Tallahassee is moving in the right direction – our legislators are working to ensure the safety of motorists.
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, please reach out to us at the Law Offices of Aronberg and Aronberg for a free consultation. You can call us at 561-266-9191 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keywords: Florida law, texting and driving, cell phones, text message, safety, illegal