New Ban on Texting While Driving Takes Effect October 1, 2013
If you see a car swerving between lanes or driving at erratic speeds, there is a good chance you are witnessing the acts of a distracted driver. If you are lucky, you can take actions to stay away and avoid an accident. However, in 2009, nearly 5,500 people were killed and about 448,000 suffered injuries caused by distracted driving on U.S. roads. Now that an increasing number of drivers choose to text while driving, the Florida legislature has introduced new legislation to prohibit this dangerous activity.
The new law essentially prohibits any typing or reading activities on a wireless communications device while operating a motor vehicle, other than for official duties or emergency purposes. Referred to as the Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law, the legislation is intended to accomplish the following:
- Improve roadway safety for all road users
- Prevent crashes related to text messaging while driving
- Reduce injuries, deaths and property damage and insurance costs
Authorize law enforcement offers to issue citations for texting while driving as a secondary offense, which means drivers must be pulled over for another offense and cannot be stopped for driving while texting alone
First-time violators of the new law can receive a non-moving violation citation similar to a parking ticket. However, second and subsequent violations within a five-year period can result in moving violation citations and stiffer penalties.
Although this law may be less strict than similar laws in most other states, it can provide important evidence of liability in the event of an accident. In the event of a crash resulting in personal injury or death, billing records for a wireless communications device or the testimony of or written statements from appropriate authorities receiving such messages may be admissible as evidence in any proceeding to identify whether a driver has violated the law.
If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident you believe was caused by a driver who was texting, it is important to mention your concerns to your Florida auto accident lawyer. An experienced attorney understands the nuances of the new law and knows how to help protect your rights to the compensation you deserve.