Only 393 Florida drivers were ticketed for texting while driving in the three months after the state’s new distracted driving law went into effect last October.
The meager number raises the question of whether Florida’s texting ban is tough enough to achieve its stated goals of improving roadway safety for all drivers and reducing injuries and deaths from automobile accidents.
Our Boca Raton accident attorneys is experienced in fighting for just compensation for injuries caused by distracted drivers.
The texting ban statistics were obtained from the Florida Highway Patrol by the Sun Sentinel and tracked ticketing activity throughout the state between October 1, when the texting ban went into effect, and December 31.
Officers in Miami-Dade County issued the most number of tickets of any county under the texting-while-driving ban — 105. By comparison, 35 tickets were issued in Palm Beach County. Broward County drivers received 32 citations under the new law.
Florida Statute 316.305 makes it a traffic offense for a driver to manually type or enter letters, numbers, symbols or other characters into a wireless communications device. In addition to text messaging, the ban applies to emailing and instant messaging through smart phones.
However, drivers are allowed to text when stopped in traffic or at traffic lights.
Moreover, the Florida law only makes texting while driving a secondary offense, meaning a driver can’t get a ticket unless first cited for a primary traffic offense like speeding, reckless driving or driving without a seatbelt.
Drivers receive a $30 ticket for a first violation. A second or subsequent violation within five years carries a $60 fine and adds three points to the driver’s license.
The relatively light fines and primary offense requirement have critics of the law questioning whether it will have much of an impact on driver safety.
In response to critics of the current law, Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, is sponsoring legislation to eliminate language making texting while driving a secondary offense. Another bill would, if passed, expressly prohibit the use of cell phones and other electronic communications devices by drivers in school zones, at school crossings, or on school district property.
The Florida Legislature passed the texting ban in 2013 in response to some rather grim statistics on the problem of distracted driving.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, in 2012 more than 3,400 crashes occurred in the state in which the driver was distracted by an electronic device, such as a cell phone. The law enforcement agency said that 24 people died in those accidents.
The National Transportation Safety Administration estimates that a driver who texts and drives is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash. Teens are most at risk. In the U.S., it is estimated that 11 teens are killed each day as the result of a crash that could be blamed on texting while driving.
In addition to texting, the most common forms of distractions that lead to automobile accidents include:
* Talking on a cell phone or smartphone
* Eating and drinking
* Talking to passengers
* Using a navigation system
* Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
To get help from an experienced Boca Raton automobile accident lawyer, contact The Hollander Law Firm today toll free at (888) 751-7770.