Distracted Driving is Deadly Driving
Florida is one of only a handful of states that still allows drivers to talk on their cell phones while driving. Most other jurisdictions ban hand-held cell phone calls while driving, even if the limitation is just placed on novice drivers. The obvious rationale behind hand-held bans is to shift drivers’ focus away from their cell phones and back to the road. This is also why most states, including Florida, implemented a texting ban.
Critics of such laws ponder why texting is forbidden but driving with a cigarette in your hand, a dog on your lap, a cheeseburger stuffed in your mouth, hot coffee between your legs, or turning around to console an upset child is not penalized. While no law explicitly prevents these types of behaviors, inattentive driving can still get you in trouble with the law. Speeding up, slowing down, swerving, or veering outside of your lane are all good reasons for an officer to pull you over and investigate the situation. If the deviation from traffic laws is significant enough, a distracted driver may be charged with reckless driving, which can have severe penalties.
According to a Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department study, 83% of drivers reported that distracted drivers and drivers using cell phones is something they consider an extremely serious problem. This is a reasonable fear, considering an estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers in 2011 nationwide.
The studies also indicated that most states that do not allow hand-held phone use to make calls do allow hands-free calling. However, studies indicate that this change does not affect a driver’s performance any differently. Researchers speculate that it is the conversation and not holding of the phone that is the ultimate distraction. If that is true, then where to draw the line will be difficult for lawmakers across the nation. Surely a driver will not be prohibited from talking to their passenger or entertaining their children on a long drive.
Also, texting and driving is only a secondary offense in Florida as the law is written now. This means an officer must pull you over for something other than texting and driving as the primary offense, but can secondarily cite you for cell phone use. Many stricter states that ban holding a phone while talking also make texting a primary offense—something that an officer can pull you over for directly. The future of cell phone use for Florida drivers is unclear at this point. Given that Florida is in the minority regarding cell phone laws, it is likely to appear on a ballot in the near future.
What If I Was In An Accident Involving a Distracted Driver?
All accidents take a profound emotional toll on those not at fault. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the accident, if you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. This compensation can include pain and suffering damages, medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, or other losses. Our experienced car accident attorneys at Alan Goldfarb, P.A. know how to approach these cases to give you the best possible outcome. If you have any questions about a possible claim, contact us today and let us talk to you about your rights.