Ahh, Florida. Paradise right here within the continental United States. Beaches that resemble tropical getaways, cities booming with life from morning till night, and the car next to you texting and driving. Teeming through the beauty that is the Sunshine State, lies an issue that many other states deal with as well, the epidemic of texting and driving.
Florida is one of the most relaxed states when it comes to law enforcement. Much of that is thanks to the outrageous number of residents and tourists that call the state home. In the entire nation, citizens outweigh law enforcement officials 2 to 1,000. For every two police officers there are around a thousand people. That’s only an average, during tourist season in Florida, you can double those stats. While the laws and rules may change, most of the blame is on the general public for the utter carelessness.
This January there were new laws set in place to limit the amount of people who text and drive. Here is an overview of what to expect, and why you shouldn’t be surprised if an officer pulls you over.
Facts & Statistics
According to The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), an average driver going 60 miles an hour takes an entire football field to come to a stop. Distracted driving, in which texting while driving falls under, is one of the most common reasons for accidents in the state of Florida. In 2016, there were nearly 50,000 crashes which involved distracted driving in Florida alone. While this could include anything from eating food to putting make-up on, it’s safe to say that texting/using a phone is a major contributor.
We have pulled some of the most eye-opening stats on distracted driving from the NHTSA and provided them below:
- Cell-phone use alone accounted for 27% of 2015 car crashes
- In 2015, there were 3,477 people killed and an estimated additional 391,000 injured in crashes involving distracted drivers
- Driver distraction is responsible for more than 58% of teen crashes
- Distracted driving claims 9 lives per day
- Distracted driving costs society $40 billion a year.
The Old Laws
Texting while driving was already illegalized in Florida, but the new law changes the offense from a “secondary” to a “primary”. A secondary offense is something officers cannot pull you over for but can cite you if you we’re committing a primary offense. A primary offense is any law that an officer can ticket/arrest you for.
The secondary offense was only punishable through a $20 citation that could be added on to your primary offense cost. There were also zero points added to the driver’s record. The problem with the old law was how minor the punishment was.
Thanks to legislature, new laws came into effect on January 1, 2020.
The New Laws
The initial penalty is now $30 in addition to court fees as the first violation. Court fees could add up to around 120 more dollars. The second violation within five years is considered a moving violation. The second offense is a citation up to $100 plus court fees with three points added to the driver’s record. You are allowed to text at stoplights or while the vehicle is stationary. If the vehicle is moving in any way, it automatically becomes a primary offense.
Police officers have admitted that enforcing the law is going to be quite difficult. It’s being compared to the use of seat-belts. While if seen, both offenses are illegal, it is extremely hard to see if a driver is texting from even a short distance.
While the law is just the beginning and certainly not an end to the texting while driving dilemma, the movement to a primary offense is a great place to start. Distracted driving, whether it’s texting, eating, or anything else you do in your vehicle; is one of the most dangerous things you can do on the road. Everyone is guilty of distracted driving but it’s important to take a second to think about the consequences that could ensue.
Florida is full of dangerous roads without the use of cell phones while driving. Traffic is a first-hand testament to that fact. Think about your family and put the phone away while you drive.
Call a Florida Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been severely injured by a negligent driver who was texting while driving, a Tampa car accident lawyer can help you make up for the time you’ve lost. Large insurance companies can bully you as a person and deny any claims you file. Dennis Hernandez Expert Car Crash Lawyer can help you receive full compensation for all your economic losses. Speak to an attorney today by calling (855)-LAW-DENNIS.