Florida’s distracted driving law bans texting and driving

Florida's distracted driving law bans texting and driving

In today's high tech society, it isn't unusual to see people talking or texting on their cellphones while they are driving. For many people, it is second nature to answer a phone call while they are taking their kids to school or respond to a text on their way to work. Although Florida motorists may feel that they are able to use their cellphones while driving safely, national statistics prove otherwise. According to distraction.gov, the U.S. government's official website dedicated to distracted driving, 421,000 people were injured in distracted driving car accidents in 2012, and another 3,328 people were killed. As a result of these alarming numbers, many states have enacted laws against the use of cellular devices while driving.

Florida's distracted driving laws

The Governors Highway Safety Association reports that Florida is one of 44 states that has made it illegal to text and drive. In Florida, the ban on texting while driving is a secondary law, meaning that law enforcement officers cannot pull over and cite individuals seen texting and driving unless they commit another traffic violation. This drastically limits the ability that law enforcement has to decrease the number of distracted drivers.

What is distracted driving?

When a motorist engages in an activity that diverts their attention away from the act of driving, they are practicing distracted driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC lists three different types of distraction, including manual, visual and cognitive. While manual distractions require the driver to take their hands off of the steering wheel, visual distractions require a driver to take their eyes off the road. Cognitive distractions employ the motorist's mind, decreasing their ability to concentrate on driving.

Talking and texting on a cellphone are not the only distractive behaviors. Distraction.gov lists the following as other distractions that drivers commonly engage in:

  • Programming a navigation device
  • Eating and drinking
  • Adjusting the CD player or radio
  • Talking to passengers in the car
  • Picking an item up off the floor

Texting and driving is listed as one of the most dangerous distractions because it incorporates manual, visual and cognitive distraction.

Room for improvement

Florida is not the only state that could benefit by strengthening distracted driving legislation. Many states across the nation could help save lives by taking a closer look at their cellphone policies. Growing research shows the dangers of cognitive distraction, and the use of hand-held cellular devices while driving. Yet only 14 states in the nation ban hand-held cellphone use.

Contact an attorney

People who have been injured in a car accident involving a distracted driver may be eligible to receive compensation for their medical expenses, lost time from work, as well as pain and suffering. A reputable personal injury attorney can offer vital legal counsel to those seeking assistance in their case.