Cell Phone Laws in Florida
Florida has the some of the highest distracted driving rates in the nation. In 2017 alone, there were over 50,000 car accidents in the state due to drivers not focusing on the road. Most of these crashes are from young adults under the age of 30. This number is most attributed to young people’s reliance on technology like cell phones and their continued dependence while driving. The National Safety Council says that cellphone use while driving results in 1.6 million crashes every year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2017 over 3000 people lost their lives to distracted driving. Given how dangerous distracted driving can be, it may be surprising to some that using a cell phone while driving is not illegal in Florida.
Texting And Driving
There are laws in place that put limits on cell phone use to protect other drivers. While using cell phones or other hand held devices while driving is not strictly prohibited for everyone, there is an exception for commercial truck drivers. Truck drivers are not allowed to use any mobile devices. If a truck driver gets distracted, it is a lot more likely that a collision would be fatal because trucks carry so much more mass behind them. The State of Florida also prohibits texting while driving. According to the 2018 Florida Statutes Section 316.305, “A person may not operate 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-vocal] interpersonal communication.”
Although texting and driving is prohibited for the purpose of improving the roads for drivers, enforcing this law is not as simple as enforcing normal traffic laws. The “texting and driving” ban is treated as a secondary law in Florida. This means that law enforcement officers can only issue tickets for “texting and driving” if they witness someone also committing some other traffic violation too. For example, if a state trooper sees someone texting and driving, they cannot issue a citation. However, if the state trooper sees someone run a red light and it is discovered that they were texting and driving, then the officer may issue a ticket for the traffic violation and then an additional violation added for texting and driving. These fines typically are below $60, which is an amount that many people find too low. Many motorists believe that “texting and driving” is a very serious issue and think that there should be stricter enforcement. Currently there are efforts to revise Florida’s “texting and driving” laws but there have not been signs of definite progress.
Texting and driving is a serious issue. When someone believes they have been injured in a “texting and driving” accident or have received a citation for “texting and driving”, they should contact an attorney immediately. An attorney can help them understand their case and the law to see what options they may have available.