19 Jan Harsher Penalties for Texting While Driving Coming?
There is no arguing that texting and driving has become a serious cause of automobile accidents in the United States. So much so, in fact, that it has actually become a front-burner issue for a number of organizations, from branches of the government to cellphone companies. “It can wait” bumper stickers are popping up on cars everywhere, and all across the nation, laws are being developed to prevent and discourage texting while driving.
Florida is no exception. There are laws on the books against texting while driving, and now Florida’s anti-texting and driving campaign seems to be picking up speed as multiple new bills are set to appear before Florida Legislature this spring, as reported by News-Press.
Texting and Driving Laws in Florida
As mentioned above, it is already against the law to text while driving in Florida. However, doing so is only a secondary offence, meaning that police officers can offer citations for it only if the driver was pulled over for another reason. According to News-Press, the new bills that are set to appear before Legislature this spring would serve to enhance those existing laws. Some new laws that these bills seek to enact include:
- Making texting while driving a primary offense, so that texting and driving itself would be an acceptable reason to pull a person over
- Imposing a criminal penalty on any driver who was using a cell phone at the time of a fatal accident
- Forbidding all cell phone use when driving in school zones
If even one of these bills passes, it could seriously change things for Florida drivers. If drivers continue to text while driving, the consequences they face could be severe, from paying fines and doing community service to serving significant jail time. The increased accountability implied in all the proposed laws means that Florida drivers would have to be more cautious and more aware.
Dangers of Distracted Driving
In the United States, distracted driving is a problem of almost epidemic proportions. Anything from using a GPS, to traveling with a pet, to eating or drinking while driving can count as distracted driving, and all forms of distracted driving are extremely dangerous—not only for other drivers, but for pedestrians as well.
Still, however, men and women continue to drive while distracted, and the number of accidents, injuries, and deaths that occur as a result continues to climb. According to StopTextsStopWrecks.org:
- As of 2012, 78% of teens and young adults say they have read a text message while driving, and 71% say they have composed or sent text messages while driving.
- As of 2012, 11% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crash.
- A person’s eyes are off the road for an average of five seconds while texting. If you’re traveling at 55mph, five seconds is enough time to cover the length of an entire football field.
- Texting while driving enhances a person’s chance of getting into in a car crash by 23%.
Due in no small part to these statistics, “Take the pledge” campaigns gained a lot of popularity in recent years. According to ItCanWait.com, over 5 million people have signed their pledge to not text and drive. Clearly, drivers are aware of how dangerous it can be to text and drive. Yet far too many of them still do.
And other drivers and pedestrians on the road are suffering the consequences. Injuries that result from distracted driving accidents are many and varied, and they can be traumatizing not only to the victims but to their families and friends as well. Victims who have been hurt in distracted driving accidents may not only suffer the inconvenience of a damaged or totaled vehicle, they may also have to deal with personal injury in myriad forms—from minor cuts and bruises to lost limbs or disfigurement.
Hit by A Distracted Driver?
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident caused by a driver who was texting while driving, one of the first steps you take should be to speak to a qualified legal representative. Texting and driving is illegal and if you’ve been injured as a result of a distracted driver, you were injured by someone who was breaking the law. That person needs to be brought to justice, not only for your sake but also for the sake of other drivers and pedestrians who are at risk because of his or her negligence. Contact the law offices of Sootsky, Perez & Braxton today to get the compensation you need and put your life back on track.
About the Author:
Steven Slootsky is a 1985 graduate of Nova Law School, which means he’s been a practicing Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer for more than 2 decades. He founded the Law Offices of The Injury Law Firm of South Florida in 1991. The Fort Lauderdale-based accident attorney is a member of the Florida Bar, as well as the Federal Bar for the Southern District for the U.S. District Court. During his career as a personal injury lawyer/auto accident compensation attorney, Steven has served as the co-chair of the Worker’s Compensation section for Broward County, Florida. He is also a Bronze member of the Florida Workers Advocates, a former member of the board, and serves as an “Eagle” member of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers.