During a ceremony at a Miami high school, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 52 into law — banning drivers from text messaging behind the wheel.
According to NBC6, the law makes it illegal for drivers to type on cell phones and text messaging devices while their vehicle is moving.
Unfortunately, this was only signed as a secondary law, meaning that a driver has to be observed breaking another road law before they can be pulled over and ticketed for text messaging behind the wheel. It may not be the strongest law on the books, but it’s a step in the right direction. This has been a law in the making for 5 years now.
Our Fort Lauderdale injury lawyers understand that there are critics of the law who say it’s going to be a tough one to enforce. Drivers are still allowed to dial phone numbers to call, but are not allowed to composes messages to send. How is an officer supposed to tell the difference?
Florida is one of the last states to sign such a ban into law, but it might not be tough enough to keep drivers off the phone. Still, any improvement is bound to pay dividends when it comes to safety — particularly for bicyclists and pedestrians who are all too often victims of distracted driving accidents.
With the new law, drivers are still allowed to use hands-free devices and talk-to-text devices. With this act, a driver’s cognitive attention is still taken off the task at hand — driving.
The law also allows drivers to text while their vehicle is stopped, like at a red light. So don’t expect the driver in front of you to be ready to go when the light turns green if they’re in the middle of a text. Your best bet is to keep the phone out of the driver’s seat and keep the messaging for when you’re parked, stopped and out of your car. Your safety relies on it.
Florida drivers might not be deterred by the penalties either. For a first-time offense, drivers are only facing a fine of $30 plus the costs of court fees. There’s no points on their license. With a second-time offense they face a $60 fine plus the cost of court fees and three points on their license. Six points are slammed on a driver’s license when this act results in an accident. Only under the second offense are car insurance providers catching wind of the violation and likely to increase insurance rates.
This ban was signed during the kickoff of the “100 Deadliest Days” on our roadways for teens. The bill was signed at a Miami high school to grab attention of our youngest drivers. They’re the ones who are most likely to engage in this dangerous behavior behind the wheel. They’re also more likely than any other driver to get into a serious accident. As a matter of fact, car accidents continue to be the leading killer for teens in the country.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a traffic accident, contact Richard Ansara at 954 761-3641 or toll-free at 877-277-3780 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case.
More Blog Entries:
Broward Traffic Safety Watch: Night Driving and Seat Belts, Broward Injury Lawyer Blog, May 29, 2013
Avoiding Injury in Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accidents, Broward Injury Lawyer Blog, May 12, 2013