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Will They Ban Texting While Driving in Florida?

As a Clearwater distracted driving attorney, I have seen far to many injury victims who have suffered physical harm as a result of an inattentive driver. Currently, Florida has no law prohibiting or restricting drivers from sending text messages or using cell phones while operating an automobile. Florida Statute does not require the utilization of hands-free devices in an automobile. Drivers are free to use cell phones while operating a motor vehicle. In the past three legislative sessions, bills seeking to ban drivers from the use of mobile phones while operating a motor vehicle have failed to pass through both the Florida House of Representatives and Senate.

Any driver who spends time on the roads throughout Florida can clearly see just how hazardous texting and driving is. Distracted drivers routinely weave in and out of their respective lanes and often fail to yield to traffic devices as a result of being inattentive. Florida has not yet joined the many states that have made it a point to issue a traffic citation to those who chose to text and drive.

When will the state provide law enforcement more tools to curb the harm caused by those who willingly operate a motor vehicle while taking their eyes off the road and devoting their attention to text messaging. There are currently four “distracted driving” bills that have been filed for the 2012 legislative session. However, this is not the first year that the Florida legislature has refused to pass a new law that restricts cell phone use.

Last year, the Florida Legislature rejected 18 (eighteen) different projected bills that related to driving and cell phone use. Just this year, Governor Rick Scott vetoed a bill that would have required the U.S. Department of Motor Vehicles to provide education on the dangers of electronic distracted driving. Apparently, even educating the drivers of our state on how unsafe cell phones can be while driving was just too much government for out Governor’s liking.

The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) recently conducted a study on cell phone use by drivers, and their findings are consistent with other studies conducted across the country. The FHP found that drivers who talk on their phones while driving are four times more likely to be involved in an automobile accident. They found that cell phone use was the prime contributing factor in seven fatal auto accidents in our state in 2010, citing instances where talking or texting was the proximate cause of the accident. They freely admit cell phone use is the likely culprit or contributing factor to many additional accidents and fatalities. FHP Lt. Bill Leeper cited the difficulties of singling out cell phone use in auto accidents. “A lot of times, you can’t prove it,” he said. However, he opined that the problem may grow worse in the coming months and years, stating “it is increasingly becoming an issue because of the number of people who have cell phones. Texting has become even more dangerous,” he said.

Although distracted driving is certainly not a new occurrence, the variety of tasks people can perform with a phone keeps expanding. Whether texting, checking e-mail or scrolling through menus and social medial applications m, drivers with eyes anywhere but on the road run a clear risk of causing very serious injuries or a tragic wrongful death.

The repercussions of car accidents caused by texting and cell phone use are clear. Many cell phone-related crashes occur at highway speeds and are worsened by the negligent driver’s very late reaction or failure to brake at all. Commercial truck drivers who engage in distracted driving are guilty of violating federal regulations. The challenge is proving this extreme irresponsibility has occurred.

As of today, Florida still remains one of the six states without ban on texting while driving, but this year the fight will continue to get these bills passed. A ban on texting while driving, not only make the roads safer but will also decrease deaths that occur each year by distracted drivers. Drivers do not realize how many lives they put at risk, including their own while using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. What phone call or text message is worth losing a life?

The proposal will make texting while driving a second offense and the driver would have to commit a first offense such as running a red light or speeding in order to be cited. Once pulled over the officer can issue a ticket for the first offense and a second ticket for texting while driving. A first time fine for texting will amount to $30 and if pulled over again within five years of the first ticket the fine will be doubled. The representative for Boca Raton has filed a bill making it vehicular homicide if a driver causes a fatal crash while using any electronic device. In turn, the potential consequences hopefully will force drivers to behave in a prudent manner.

But if distracted driving is such a clear problem, why would state representatives have to work so diligently to get such bills passed? This is because lawmakers here have decided it’s more important to protect the freedom to read and type messages on a cell phone while driving, even though it risks death or injury for drivers, their passengers, other motorists and pedestrians.  With or without a ban, drivers need to be educated on the risks that are being taken when it comes to distracted driving. Putting a stop to these deadly habits could not only save an innocent drivers life, but your own very life as well.
Florida Distracted Driving Attorney

Matthew A. Dolman, Esq., is an experienced personal injury attorney and routinely handles texting and driving related negligence claims. Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is a Clearwater based personal injury law firm serving the greater Tampa Bay area. The attorneys at the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA understand the nuances related to proving the negligent party was texting and driving at the time of the auto accident. Further, we take great pride in combating the act of texting and driving and it is our goal to zealously litigate claims related to distracted driving.

For more information on the danger of texting and driving or if you been injured as a result of the negligence exhibited by a distracted driver; please email me at: [email protected] or call the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA at: (727) 451-6900.