Is Florida's Texting and Driving Law Too Weak?
Posted By Todd Miner Law || Jun 6, 2016
Florida enacted a texting and driving ban nearly three years ago, but critics say the law is ineffective. According to preliminary data from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, distracted Florida drivers caused roughly 46,000 accidents in 2015 – a significant increase since 2012, when 33,511 distracted driving crashes occurred. Since then, the number of distraction-related crashes has risen steadily.
A spokesperson for the DHSMV said these statistics reflect more than just texting behind the wheel, but a wide range of distractions, such as:
- Talking on a cell phone
- Conversing with passengers
- Inattention to the road
- Keeping an unsecured pet in the car
- Personal grooming (applying makeup, etc.)
Texting While Driving is a “Secondary Offense” by Law
In Florida, texting and driving is a secondary offense. Simply put, this means police can’t cite you for texting behind the wheel unless they’ve already pulled you over for something else. Additionally, the fine for a first-time texting while driving offense is only $30, and the legislature hasn’t taken up any bills this year to make texting and driving a primary offense.
What Makes Texting and Driving So Dangerous?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration breaks distracted driving into three categories: visual, manual, and cognitive. In short, a visual distraction takes your eyes away from the road; a manual distraction removes your hands from the steering wheel; and a cognitive distraction diverts your mental attention from driving.
Eating while driving, for example, is a manual distraction. While you might be able to concentrate on driving and keep your eyes on the road ahead, you cannot keep both hands on the steering wheel. Listening to loud music or maintaining an in-depth conversation with a passenger, on the other hand, is a cognitive distraction.
While these distractions are risky, texting and driving is especially dangerous because it involves all three levels of distraction. Holding a phone, taking your eyes off the road, and reading / composing a text encompass every form of distraction, making it one of the most dangerous types of distracted driving.
Orlando Leads Florida for Distracted Driving Crashes
Most of the time, Miami-Dade leads all 67 Florida counties for accident and injury statistics, but this year, Orange County led with 5,506 confirmed distracted driving accidents in 2015. About 4,500 distracted driving crashes happened in Miami-Dade. In Orange County, more than half of these accidents involved injuries and 13 led to fatalities. Across the state, more than 200 people were killed in distracted driving accidents last year.
Information for Victims of Distracted Driving Accidents
If a distracted driver caused your accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. With the help of an Orlando personal injury attorney at Todd Miner Law, you can pursue payment for hospitalization, lost wages, and other financial damages resulting from the accident. We are committed to serving our clients and provide free initial consultations, so get in touch with a member of our team today.