There’s another reason to put down your phone while in the driver’s seat. Starting October 1, texting while driving will be illegal. In 2009, there were close to 5,500 people killed and another 500,000 injured on American’s roadways in distraction-related accidents. Yet Florida is one of the last states (the 41st to be exact) to enact a law to stop this kind of behavior behind the wheel.
The new texting law will be enforced as secondary enforcement, which means that a driver cannot text behind the wheel while driving, but can only be cited for it if they’re pulled over for another violation, like speeding or running a red light.
Our Boca Raton accident lawyers encourage drivers to hang up the phone and put the text messaging devices away. Regardless of what the law is, our first concern should be safety behind the wheel, and that gets thrown out the window as soon as you take your eyes off the road.
“The state is telling kids that you can text as long as you don’t do anything else wrong. The degree of risk involved in driving while texting is similar to drunk driving, speeding and reckless driving —and it’s a secondary offense?” said David Teater with the National Safety Council (NSC).
We understand that digital message boards along the state’s highways will light up with the message: “Don’t Text and Drive. It’s the Law,” on Sept. 19 and Oct. 1 and 15, but there’s not going to be many more awareness campaigns.
According to the Miami Herald, Governor Rich Scott vetoed a $1 million budget to promote the new law.
If you do get busted for text messaging behind the wheel, then you face a $30 fine for a first-time offense. Plan on a $60 fine for a second-time offense.
“If you text and drive three things occur: You take your eyes off the road, you take your mind off of driving, and you take your hands off the wheel. And that creates a hazard,” said Col. David Brierton with the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP).
This is especially targeted toward our teenage drivers. They send about five times as many text messages a day as a typical adult. But parents can step in and help. As a matter of fact, teens are much more likely to do something their peers and parents are doing. This means to set them a safe and responsible example. If you don’t text behind the wheel, they’re less likely to as well.
Florida’s legislature stated that the intent of this law is not only to prevent crashes and reduce injury and death, but also to lower “healthcare costs, health insurance rates, and automobile insurance rates.”
Some experts are saying that Florida’s new law is too weak and it’s going to be too difficult to enforce. But we as drivers have to remember that distracted driving can kill. Whether lawful or not, it’s important to keep our full attention on our surroundings.
If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.