A bill has recently been introduced into the Florida Senate that would toughen the law on texting while driving. Under Senate Bill 246, the violation of the Texting While Driving Law would become a primary offense. According to the Senate’s bill analysis, this would allow “state or local law enforcement agencies to enforce the prohibition on texting while driving without the necessity of another violation related to motor vehicles.” Furthermore, the law would also double the amount of a fine if the violation occurred in a posted school zone or designated school crossing. If the bill is passed, the new law would take effect on October 1, 2015.

Current Law on Texting While Driving

Under the current “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law,” a person is prohibited from operating a motor vehicle:

  • While manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device; or
  • While sending or reading data on such a device for the purpose of non-voice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, emailing, and instant messaging.

There are, however, exceptions to this rule, such as when the vehicle is stationary or a phone is being used for emergency purposes. Currently, enforcement of Florida’s current must occur “only as a secondary action when an operator of a motor vehicle has been detained for a suspected violation of another provision” of Florida’s Uniform Traffic Control Law.

SB 246, however, seeks to make texting while driving a primary offense. This would allow enforcement officials to stop a driver solely on the suspicion that the driver is texting while driving. Forty-four states and the District of Columbia have laws on their books that make texting while driving a primary offense.

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a serious problem, not only in Florida, but throughout the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each day across the United States, more than 9 people are killed and more than 1,153 people injured from crashes involving distracted drivers, which includes texting while driving. The CDC identifies three categories of distracted driving: visual, manual, and cognitive.

The CDC considers texting while driving particularly dangerous because it combines all three forms of distraction. Of U.S. drivers surveyed between the ages 18-64, 31 percent stated that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the past 30 days.

Contact a Reed & Reed Car Accident Attorneys for Legal Help

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, it is important to have an experienced Brandon car accident attorney on your side. Reed & Reed’s team of experienced Brandon car and auto accident attorneys can help you recover compensation for you injuries.

From our office in Brandon, we help clients in Tampa, New Tampa, Plant City, East Hillsborough County and throughout the state of Florida. Contact Reed & Reed for a free consultation.