Florida motorists can soon be stopped and ticketed for using their cell phones while driving. At least when it comes to text messaging.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a measure this month that will make texting while driving a primary offense, meaning a police officer can stop and ticket a distracted driver caught texting, web surfing or using social media while behind the wheel. Florida’s existing law was a secondary offense, meaning drivers had to be stopped for another traffic violation before a distracted-driving citation could be issued.
Our car accident lawyers in Fort Myers and Cape Coral continue to see far too many traffic collisions caused by distracted drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports more than 3,000 motorists are killed each year in collisions involving distraction; but by some estimates, one-third of all traffic collisions involve driver distraction, resulting in more than 10,000 road deaths each year.
Florida Distracted Driving Law
The Florida Highway Patrol and other law enforcement organizations are launching awareness campaigns, which will include issuing warnings to motorists beginning this fall. The law officially takes effect on Jan. 1. Still, cited motorists would be able to show proof of blue-tooth wireless purchase and take a safe-driving course to avoid fines and points on their license.
Florida became the 45th state to make texting while driving a primary offense, according to a report in The News-Press. But drivers are already questioning whether the penalties are sufficient to get drivers to pay better attention to the road. Historically, law enforcement has had a difficult time enforcing such laws, because it’s difficult to tell whether a driver is using a phone for a permitted use (dialing) or for a prohibited use. More than half of all states have already passed measures to prohibit drivers from using a hand-held device at the wheel for any reason except an emergency, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Distracted Driving Liability
Many more collisions are caused each year by distraction than just those that are recorded by law enforcement. An experienced Fort Myers car accident attorney will carefully review your case to determine all causes of a collision. In some cases, law enforcement may find a primary factor, such as speeding, was the cause of an accident and will look no further for secondary causes. In other cases, law enforcement may never determine that a driver was using a phone, eating, or otherwise distracted at the time of a collision.
Determining all factors of a crash, as well as identifying all responsible parties, will offer victims the best chance of obtaining adequate compensation for their injuries. Committing to not driving distracted will not only reduce your chances of a crash, but it will also reduce the likelihood that you will be found liable for the cost of medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.
While law enforcement continues to toughen laws aimed at distracted driving, the safety of Southwest Florida motorists is largely in the hands of individual drivers.
If you are injured in Fort Myers, contact our injury attorneys at the Garvin Law Firm at 800.977.7017 for your free initial consultation.