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Distracted Driving: A Problem Garnering National Attention

Distracted driving is an increasing problem in the Miami area. It is estimated that more than 400,000 people in 2013 were injured due to distracted driving. Among those injured in 2013, 10 percent of the drivers under the age of 20 who drove distracted were involved in a fatal crash. And among the more than 400,000 people injured, over 3,000 were killed. These are good enough reasons for people to put down their phones and focus on driving. But using and manipulating a phone are not the only examples of distracted driving. Other examples of distracted driving include:

  • Sending and receiving emails;
  • Eating or drinking;
  • Fixing makeup or doing hair;
  • Watching videos on the phone or tablet;
  • Adjusting navigation or radio systems; and
  • Talking with or engaging in horseplay with passengers.

Driving distracted not only opens the driver and passengers of a car to a dangerous situation, it also opens the driver to legal troubles. When distracted drivers are involved in an accident, they can expect to be held liable for any damages they cause to fellow passengers and other drivers. In addition, Florida has laws prohibiting distracted driving, and the coming year may see a change in those laws aimed at improving this problem.

Florida Legislature to Introduce Bill to Crackdown on Distracted Driving

In an effort to reduce Florida’s problem with distracted driving, several Florida legislators have introduced new distracted driving bills. While Florida’s current laws make texting and driving illegal under most circumstances, the proposed legislation would increase the effectiveness of those laws in several ways:

  • Making texting while driving a primary offense;
  • Introducing additional fines for texting while in a school zone;
  • Making the use of a cell phone during a fatal accident a criminal offense; and
  • Banning all cellphone use in a school zone.

The legislators hope that these reforms will bring Florida’s laws more in line with other jurisdictions who are clamping down on distracted driving.

Florida’s Current Distracted Driving Laws

The current distracted driving law in Florida is known as “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law.” Under current law it is illegal to text while driving, but there are a number of loopholes in the law. For example, you can use your phone for navigation purposes, check weather alerts, use the phone while stationary – like when at a stoplight. And even if you are texting and driving, and a police officer sees you, the officer cannot pull you over because it is a secondary offense. Another problem is that the current law is overly narrow in how it defines using a phone, leaving open different ways to operate a phone in an effort to circumvent the law. Many people, the legislators introducing new legislation included, feel like current laws just don’t do enough to reduce distracted driving.

Conclusion

The attorneys at Alan Goldfarb, P.A. devote their practice to protecting the rights of victims. Too often Miami drivers become the victims of distracted driving, whether due to texting and driving or one of the other ways drivers distract themselves when they should be focused. When that happens, Alan Goldfarb, P.A. will be there to make sure you are fairly compensated.

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