Distracted driving has been an ongoing concern in Florida. Since the state had relatively lenient laws regarding texting and driving, significant pressure was placed on lawmakers to change the way law enforcement went about its duties in stopping drivers who were texting behind the wheel. A new law was signed by the governor to allow drivers to pull vehicles over if the driver was texting. It goes into effect July 1. However, there are various concerns among drivers as to its effectiveness as the law has certain limitations. With that, a distracted driver will continue to present the risk of a car accident with injuries and fatalities.
Law enforcement can issue a warning after July 1. On Jan. 1, 2020, they can stop drivers and give a citation because it will become a primary offense. Until the new law goes into effect, it remains a secondary offense meaning the driver needed to have committed a separate violation before making a stop and addressing texting and driving. Drivers will get a $30 fine and need to pay court costs and fees. If there is another violation within five years, it will be a moving violation and cost $60, court costs and fees.
There has been a noticeable and worrisome increase in distracted driving accidents in the state since 2013. That year, there were more than 39,000 such accidents. In 2018, that rose to 52,000. Three thousand people were hurt and 233 died. A poll regarding drivers who text and drive indicated that 45 percent of drivers who were between the ages of 18 and 24 admitted to texting and driving in states where there was a ban on it. Forty-eight percent said they did so in states where there was no such ban. For those 25 to 29, 40 percent admitted it in states where there was a ban; 55 percent in states without a ban.
AAA says that people who text and drive have eight times the chance of being in an accident. It is twice as problematic when they are talking on a phone without a hands-free device. Seventy-eight percent of Americans say texting and driving is dangerous, but 35 percent admit to doing it anyway. These numbers indicate that, despite attempts on the part of lawmakers and law enforcement to deal with the problem, it will continue. Those who have been hurt or lost a loved one in a texting and driving accident must remember their rights as they deal with the medical expenses, lost income and long-term damage. A law firm that has helped many people after car accidents should be called for advice on how to file a lawsuit.