Florida Still Ranks Among the Worst States for Distracted Driving
Nineteen-year-old Angelina Holloway of Citrus County died after sending a text in April of 2016. She sent a message to her boyfriend while driving home and left the roadway, striking a tree, Fox News reports. According to recent reports, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Department reported that distracted driving accidents were up by 17 percent since the prior year. So, what is Florida doing to stop the problem?
Texting and Driving Remains a Secondary Offense for Now
Unlike many states that make texting and driving a primary offense, FLA STAT. 316.305(5) makes it a secondary offense in Florida. This means that police cannot pull you over for texting. Instead, you can be ticketed for texting and driving if you are stopped for some other reason. For instance, if you are pulled over for speeding or driving while under the influence, a ticket can also be written for distracted driving, if the evidence suggests the driver was texting. However, an officer may not pull a driver over solely because he or she witnessed the driver texting.
How Does Florida Law Stack-up Against Other States?
A review of the state-by-state laws published by the National Conference of State Legislatures reveals that Florida’s law is a departure from the norm across the country. Online Nebraska and South Dakota share Florida’s relaxed secondary enforcement standard for distracted driving. Montana has no restrictions on hand-held devices. All other states make texting and driving a primary offense.
Florida Drivers Rank at the Bottom for Distracted Driving
According to the EverDrive Safe Driving Report 2016-2017, 44 percent of all driving events in the state result in at least one distracted driving occurrence. The report explains that Florida drivers ranked 49th in the nation for texting and driving. The only state that scored worse was Louisiana.
Florida Looks at Changing the Law
As News 4 Jacksonville reports, Florida lawmakers are working on changing the law to make texting and driving a primary offense, which would bring Florida in line with other states around the country. Of course, this is easier said than done. Legislators in Florida are torn on how to go about making the change and the effectiveness of such changes.
Do Texting Bans Make a Difference?
Yes. For the most part, the research strongly suggests that drivers reduce their handheld device use when they are aware that police can stop them for doing so. A 2014 study, published in the American Public Health Association, revealed that states with texting bans saw on average about a 7 percent reduction in the number of ‘crash-related hospitalizations.’
What to Do if Injured by a Distracted Driver in Florida
If you’ve been seriously injured by a distracted driver in Florida, you should be aware that your Florida no-fault insurance may not be sufficient to cover your medical bills and lost income from work. Fortunately, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you deal with the insurance companies and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
With offices in Tampa, Clearwater, and Hudson, Roman & Roman, P.A. makes it easy to meet with an attorney and discuss your case. Call or visit online to set up your free case evaluation today.