Florida has had an ongoing problem with it’s texting while driving laws: namely, that they don’t do much. In 2013, our state passed its very first version of a texting while driving ban. But the law lacks any teeth. it makes texting while driving a secondary offense, which means that a police officer can’t pull someone over solely for texting while driving. They have to commit some other offense first, and then the police officer can tack on a texting while driving charge on top of the original offense.
In fact, new information has been revealed showing that just 84 citations for texting while driving have been handed out by the Gainesville Police Department and the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office since the law was passed in 2013.
During this time, there is a lot of evidence showing that distracted driving has exploded in prominence across the state. The Florida Highway Patrol says that accidents caused by distracted driving have increased 26 percent since the law passed. Additionally, an FHP report says that roughly 50,000 accidents (causing more than 3,500 injuries and 233 deaths) occurred in 2016 due to distracted drivers.
A spokesperson for the Gainesville Police Department went so far as to say this: “Florida is behind the curve when it comes to a texting and driving law. I’m hopeful that ours will eventually become a primary offense.”
Texting while driving is a problem, as is the wider problem of distracted driving. When you are behind the wheel of a car, your focus should be on the road only.
Source: Gainesville Sun, “Five years in, few citations for texting motorists,” Alex Sargent, May 5, 2017