While 33 states – including Guam and the District of Columbia — have bans on texting while driving, Florida is one of just 17 states that do not have specific bans against texting and driving, despite a number of efforts by legislators to pass these types of laws. Currently, no states have blanket bans which prohibit all cellphone use by motorists. However, eight states – as well as the Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia – have laws which ban the use of handheld cellphones while driving.
In Florida, a number of proposed laws were considered by Legislature in the latest session. One proposed law would have mandated driver education programs to include information about the dangers of distracted driving and the hazards of cellphones and other mobile devices while driving. Another proposed piece of legislation would have made it illegal for drivers under the age of 18 to use handheld cell phones and mobile devices while driving. None of these bills passed. Sen. Evelyn J. Lynn, R-Ormond Beach sponsored SB 80, which would have created the Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law. That law also did not pass, but Sen. Evelyn J. Lynn has spoken out about the need for such legislation.
Certainly, a number of studies do seem to suggest that the use of cell phones and mobile devices while driving is dangerous. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute completed a study in 2009 which found that using a cell phone while driving increases the risk of accidents and near accidents. Those who text drive are about 23 times as likely to be in a car crash or near car collision as those who drive distraction-free, according to the study. The study found that texting, specifically, was the most dangerous activity related to cellphones and mobile device use while driving. As well, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 0.2% of car accident related deaths and 1.22 % of car-accident-related injuries in Florida are caused by distracted driving. In 2009, for example, 1,532 people in Florida were injured and four were killed due to distracted driving. However, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the actual number of Florida car accidents caused by distracted driving may be quite higher, since drivers who have been in an accident rarely own up to driving distracted and, in some cases, there is no evidence to confirm that a driver was distracted.
Statistics such as these have led many Florida residents to conclude that there needs to be laws against distracted driving in order to prevent more Florida pedestrian accidents and car accidents. However, others oppose the idea of more government interference for drivers. They note that written tests for learner’s permits in Florida already contain questions about distracted driving. As well, a 2010 study by the Highway Loss Data Institute found that in states with texting bans, the rates of car accidents did not actually decrease after a texting ban. In fact, in three states, the number of car collisions increased after the texting ban was put in place. Another study by the Highway Loss Data Institute found that bans which prohibit the use of handheld cell phones and mobile devices also did not reduce the number of car crashes. As well, some believe that technology is actually helping to prevent Florida car accidents, as there are hands-free texting applications, alerts for distracted drivers, and other special safety features, available for drivers.
If you have been injured by a distracted Florida driver, the good news is that you still have some rights. The driver may be liable for the accident because he or she was driving recklessly, even if the driver broke no laws by texting and driving. However, to pursue your case, you will need an experienced Florida personal injury attorney, as gathering evidence in these cases can be quite complex. Contact the Flaxman Law Group for a free initial consultation to discuss your case. With law offices in Miami, Homestead, and Hollywood, and a legal team with decades of experience, the Flaxman Law Group is a strong choice. Your initial consultation with a South Florida personal injury attorney is absolutely free and comes with no obligation, so contact the Flaxman Law Group today.