Texting While Driving Now Illegal Across Florida
While most states have already enacted texting-while-driving laws, Florida has only recently placed a law on the books making texting while driving a primary offense. In other words, you can now be pulled over if a police officer catches you operating your motor vehicle while you are texting. Before this law took effect, police officers were only able to pull over drivers if they were committing some other traffic violation. In other words, if you were texting while driving and speeding, the police officer could issue a ticket for both speeding and texting while driving. If you were texting while driving and otherwise obeying the laws of traffic, police officers would have to wait until you broke another traffic law.
Distracted Driving Remains One of the Most Common Causes of Accidents
While distracted driving happens for more reasons than merely texting, texting remains one of the primary causes of distracted driving and distracted driving remains one of the most common causes for car accidents.
In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that 3,166 deaths could be attributed to distracted driving. That number is likely much higher. In about 434 of those cases, cell phones were the primary cause of the distraction.
Legislators hope to reduce the number of driving deaths caused by cell phone use while driving. Florida’s HB 107 will make it a primary offense to use a wireless device while driving your car. Although there is a 6 month grace period, expect state officers to begin cracking down on cell phone use sooner rather than later by issuing warnings to drivers. While the law won’t take effect until January of 2020, drivers will be ticketed for having a hand held device in their hands in school zones and work zones as of October 1st.
According to the Governor, Florida has nearly 50,000 accidents each year that can be attributed to distracted driving. Around 250 of those result in deaths.
Cell Phone Use and Civil Liability
While Florida remains a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance, drivers can be sued directly under certain circumstances. These include accidents in which another driver is maimed or killed. The law requires that there be a “serious physical injury” generally defined, at a minimum, as the breaking of bones.
For teenagers, this means their parents can be held liable when they are driving the parent’s vehicles. For adults, it means that they can be on-the-hook for paying major damages out of their pockets for injuries they cause while driving with a cell phone in their hands.
Talk to a Vero Beach Personal Injury Attorney Today
While police may not hold distracted drivers accountable until next year, an attorney representing your interests can. If you’ve been injured by a driver who was using a cell phone while operating their vehicle, the Vero Beach personal injury attorneys at Vocelle & Berg, LLP can hold them liable in civil court. Talk to us today to set up a free consultation.