Florida Goes Easy on Texting Drivers While Crashes Mount
You’ve seen the commercials: a family member of a person who was killed in a car accident while texting and driving. You know it is dangerous to text and drive and there are reports after reports of injuries and accidents as a result of it. Most states are incredibly strict with their texting and driving laws – a police officer sees you texting and driving and you get pulled over. This is not the case in Florida. Sadly, Florida has lax laws regarding texting and driving.
Florida Statutes make texting and driving a “secondary offense.” This means that a police officer cannot pull a driver over purely because they are texting and driving. The driver must be committing some other driving offense, like speeding. Comparing this to other states, Florida is very different. Some other states make texting and driving a “primary offense,” meaning that a police officer can pull a driver over purely because they are texting and driving. If you are pulled over and are texting and driving, additional points can be added to your license.
An Increase in Crashes
In a study by the South Florida Sun Sentinel, auto accidents increased by 11 percent from 2013 to 2016. Careless driving crashes increased by four times that amount. The types of crashes on the rise are typical of crashes that are caused by texting and driving. Even with these increases, less than one percent of crashes in South Florida indicate whether a cell phone was involved. This is because police officers do not usually report whether a cell phone was used unless someone was killed.
Sheriff Detective Don Huneke reports that people driving while texting appear similar to those who are driving under the influence. People that are texting and driving often end up weaving in their lanes. Officers are surprised when they pull someone over under suspicion of drunk driving only to find an individual was staring at their cell phone.
Is Florida Changing Their Laws?
Currently, after receiving support from the Florida House speaker, a proposal to make texting and driving a primary offense was introduced as the 2018 legislative session opened. Representative Emily Slosberg and Representative Jackie Toledo are co-sponsoring this bill. They see the current law of treating texting and driving as a secondary offense as “completely unenforceable.” The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee approved the measure, but this bill must go through two more panels. There are some concerns with changing the laws, but Rep. Slosberg and Rep. Toledo are passionate about this change. Opponents of change are concerned that making texting and driving a primary offense will lead to racial profiling. The opponents do not want this to open the door for police officers to use this law to racially profile.
Have You Been Injured In a Texting and Driving Accident?
If you have been injured in a car accident at because of texting and driving, contact an attorney who is dedicated to compensating you for your injuries. The experienced Florida personal injury attorneys at the Leifer Law Firm are uniquely qualified to hand your case. We work diligently and aggressively to fight for your rights.