Texting and Driving– Is it Getting Better? A Tallahassee Text and Driving Car Accident Lawyer Considers the Effects of Changes in Florida Law
Distracted driving is a major cause of car accidents in our area. Our lawyers know that cell phones can be blamed for a significant number of those distractions.
Florida police recently started enforcing new laws on texting while driving. The question is—Do the new laws make a difference?
Changes in the Texting and Driving Laws
Texting and driving was illegal before the legislature passed the most recent Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law, so many people are confused about what exactly has changed. The most significant difference for most drivers is that texting behind the wheel is now considered a “primary” offense. That means police can stop you if they suspect you might be texting while driving. Under the old law, drivers could only be charged with a texting while driving offense if police stopped them for something else like speeding.
Another significant difference in the recent laws is that they add a new statute that bans speaking on a handheld cellphone while driving in designated school and work zones. While these laws took effect in the middle of 2019, police generally issued warnings instead of citations for violations until the start of 2020, further adding to the confusion and making it challenging to gauge the effects of the changes.
Problems With the Texting and Driving Laws
While most people want to see the number of drivers texting behind the wheel reduced, a personal injury lawyer in Tallahassee can anticipate trouble with enforcing the law as it is written. Police must observe someone violating the law, which is often not obvious. They cannot ask to see the phone without a warrant and can only see records of calls or texts if an accident results in injury or death.
Additionally, the fine for violations may not provide enough of a deterrent. When legislators changed texting while driving to a primary offense, they did not increase the penalties. A first offense is not even considered a moving violation, although a second offense is. The fine the first time someone is caught texting while driving is only $30, and it increases to $60 if they are caught a second time within five years.
The Problem Exceeds the Reach of the Texting and Driving Law
Texting while driving is only part of a much more significant problem. The reason drivers are more likely to cause car accidents if they are texting is because they are distracted from their primary job—driving.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles describes three types of driving distractions:
- Visual – driver looks away from the road
- Manual – driver takes hands away from the wheel
- Cognitive – driver thinks about something other than driving
Texting is dangerous because it involves all three types of distraction. Still, a Tallahassee personal injury lawyer has seen plenty of situations where drivers engage in other actions that unnecessarily distract their attention from the road. Drivers who do so may be held liable for accidents that result.
If You Were Injured in a Crash with a Driver Who Was Texting While Driving, a Tallahassee Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
Florida laws prohibiting texting while driving seemingly do not go far enough to prevent many drivers from taking their eyes from the road and hands from the wheel at critical moments. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in an accident with a driver who may have been texting, call a Tallahassee personal injury lawyer at 888-549-7011 or contact us online to learn about your potential to recover.