09 Jan Texting While Driving May Soon Become a Primary Offense
Texting is one of the most dangerous things that you can do behind the wheel. Sending a quick text may only take your eyes off the road for a few seconds, but those few seconds are still critical for responding to pedestrians, cars, and other things on the road that require a driver’s attention.
Case-in-point: almost 1 in 5 traffic accidents are caused by texting and distracted driving (to compare, approximately 1 in 3 traffic accidents are caused by drunk drivers). Texting while driving kills and injures people every single day in this country.
A majority of drivers understand the dangers of texting and driving, yet 74% of people still admit to sending a text or even having lengthy text conversations behind the wheel. Are the stats not enough? What will it take to get Florida drivers to stop texting while they are behind the wheel?
Some law enforcement experts believe that it will take a harsh crackdown on drivers who text. Because of this, penalties for texting and driving could increase in the coming months.
Texting as a Primary Offense Rather Than a Secondary One
Texting is currently illegal in Florida, but cops are not allowed to pull you over just because they notice you texting. You can only get a ticket for texting and driving if police officers are also able to cite you for a primary traffic offense such as running a red light, speeding, and so on.
In other words, if a cop sees a driver texting behind the wheel but they are otherwise obeying the rules of the road, their hands are tied.
Only four other states treat texting and driving as a secondary offense, and soon there may only be three. Florida lawmakers want to change policies so that police officers can pull you over simply for texting and driving.
There are also proposed bills in Florida’s House of Representatives that would double the fines you can receive for texting in a school zone, and a bill that would make texting and driving a primary offense for drivers under the age of 18.
Each of these new bills focus on the biggest perpetrators of texting and driving: teens. Texting and driving is most prevalent among teenagers, and when you combine it with their inexperience on the road, texting makes teenagers the most dangerous group of drivers.
For Now, Texting Is Still a Secondary Offense
It may be a few months until these bills become law and police are able to pull over any drivers who text. Until then, Florida is sure to see high numbers of drivers distracted by their phones.
The delay has to feel extremely frustrating for anyone who has actually been injured or had a loved one hurt because another driver was texting. If police officers had been allowed to pull over the distracted driver, the injury might have been prevented.
Unfortunately, our state just hasn’t gotten there yet, but there is still a way to hold the other driver accountable: file a personal injury lawsuit. Win and you will not only receive needed compensation that can help you to cover the cost of your medical bills and other damages, you’ll call attention to an important issue and hopefully prevent others from being hurt.
How do you do it?
Using Texting against a Driver Who Hurt You
After an auto accident, you should always collect as much information and as many details as you can about what the driver was doing before the accident and what damage they caused. The following pieces of evidence can prove that a driver was texting before an accident:
- Take Pictures of the Interior of the Car: If you can take a picture of the inside of the driver’s vehicle, you may have some clues about what the driver was doing and what could have distracted them.
- Gather Testimony from Passenger or Witness: In the aftermath of an accident, a passenger or witness may not think of the consequences of the driver’s texting and driving. Passengers may be willing to tell you that the driver was sending a quick text, or reaching for their phone, before the accident occurred. Witnesses around the highway or neighborhood may also be able to testify that they saw the driver on their phone before the accident.
- The Time of Day: Determining the time of the accident can help you if you or your lawyer get access to the driver’s phone records. Texts sent immediately before an accident can show causation. Texts sent in the few minutes before the accident will help you show a judge that the driver had been acting in a negligent fashion throughout their car ride and before the accident.
Need more information on how you can use a driver’s texting habits to get compensation for your damages and losses? Contact a Florida personal injury lawyer.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 22-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The Injury Law Firm of South Florida, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.