Recent legislation passed by the Florida House would have cracked down on distracted driving, but the Senate refused to even hear the bill.
Bill HB 33 was passed by the Florida House of Representatives 112-2, and Governor Rick Scott even gave it his blessing, meaning the bill likely would have been signed into law if passed by the Senate. However, Florida Senate President Joe Negron refused to hear the bill, effectively killing it.
Currently, texting while driving is only a secondary offense. This means that drivers can only be ticketed if pulled over for another offense. Furthermore, the fine for distracted driving is only $20 – not much motivation to put cell phones away and focus on the road.
Why is this such a big deal? Because distracted driving is extremely hazardous. It significantly slows a driver’s reaction time, meaning that a distracted driver has much less time to perceive hazards and react to avoid an accident. In fact, some studies suggest that distracted driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.
There are many ways that drivers distract themselves while on the road, but these days the most common driver distraction is cell phone use, particularly texting or other means of written communication.
Using Smartphones While Driving: A Deadly Combination
In fact, these statistics may be an underestimate. According to Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Mark Wysocky, people are unlikely to volunteer the fact that they were distracted prior to a crash. This means that many more crashes than officially recorded could involve distracted driving.
Manual: Taking your hands off of the steering wheel
Cognitive: Thinking about things other than driving
Using cell phones and texting while driving requires all three categories of distraction, making texting and driving one of the most dangerous types of distracted driving.
This is why most states have outlawed texting or other means of written communication (such as email and social media) while driving and passed legislation to make it a primary offense.
This means that police are able to stop and cite drivers who use handheld cell phones while driving even if they are not engaged in any other improper driving behaviors. In some states, such as New York, it’s even an offense to talk on a cell phone while driving.
Florida is on the opposite end of that spectrum. We are one of only four states that has not yet made texting while driving a primary offense.
HB 33 would have changed this, finally giving law enforcement the ability to pull drivers over for texting on their cell phones while driving without the requirement that they were disobeying any other laws. Unfortunately, the blockage of Bill HB 33 means that this is unlikely to change anytime soon.
What does this mean for Florida drivers? The bottom line is that law enforcement has little power to stop distracted driving here – police are hamstrung to prevent this dangerous behavior by the law itself. In fact, the only way to hold distracted drivers accountable if you are injured by their negligence is to file a personal injury auto accident claim.
Personal Injury Claims for Distracted Driving in Florida
If you are injured in a car accident that was not your fault and believe that the other driver may have been using a handheld cell phone at the time of the crash, take action by filing a personal injury claim. This will help to address financial concerns arising from the accident and injury, and will also hold the other driver accountable for his or her negligence.
To win, your personal injury attorney will need to present evidence proving the required elements of a negligent injury case. These include the fact that the other driver had a duty to drive safely, that they breached this duty, that you were injured because of this breach, and that your injuries have caused you financial damages.
Our experienced Florida injury lawyers can review your situation and help you determine if you have a viable case. Succeed in your lawsuit and you will win well-deserved compensation for you and your family, while also holding the distracted driver accountable, hopefully discouraging them from making the same mistake in the future.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.
Florida Car Crashes: Why Do So Many Happen Close to Home?
There’s no way to completely avoid car accidents. However, more accidents tend to happen in certain places and situations than in others. Because of this, being aware of these accident “hot spots” and staying alert can help reduce your risk of becoming involved in a car accident. So, where do crashes tend to happen more [..]
Protect Yourself from Bike Injuries in Florida with This Safety Gear
While you can’t prevent every accident, you can protect yourself from many bike injuries in Florida with the right gear. In this post, we’ll describe the safety equipment you should be using on your ride to decrease your chance of injury – and of getting into a bike accident in the first place. Essential Safety [..]
These Are the Places Floridians are Most Likely to Slip and Fall
Slip and fall accidents are no joke – in fact, they frequently land Floridians in the hospital. In this post, we’ll tell you the most common areas that lead to slip and fall accidents, what kinds of places they are most likely to occur, and what to do if you are injured. Common Areas for [..]
Floridians’ Chances of Dying Increase in These Professions
Is your job putting you at a deadly risk? Read this post to learn about the deadliest jobs in America, and how someone else’s negligence can put you in danger. Many employers use strict safety standards to protect employees. However, no matter how many precautions are taken, some jobs are just inherently risky. If you [..]
Hurt Due to Bad Conditions at a Florida Hotel? You Can Fight Back
If you are injured at a hotel, you may be entitled to compensation if you can prove negligence. That’s what happened for one 75-year-old woman. After an unfortunate accident, she sued a Days Inn hotel in Bradenton and recently won $675,000 in her lawsuit against them. What happened? The woman slipped in a hotel bathtub [..]
What Florida Kids Should Know to Avoid Back to School Car Crashes
School is starting again. Morning commutes now include stopping for crossing guards and children on their way to class. If you are a parent in Florida, this time of year is both exciting and frightening. Why? Because motor vehicle crashes caused a quarter of all unintentional injury deaths of children under the age of 18 [..]
Here’s Why So Many Florida Kids Get Hurt in Bounce Houses
Kids love bounce houses. If they see one at a party, they go running. If the thought of this makes you want to start nervously biting your nails, don’t feel like a helicopter parent. Why? Because the reality is that bounce houses may be more dangerous than we think. Quick Stats about Bounce House Injuries [..]
Ways That a Florida Funeral Home Can Act Negligently
Losing a loved one is one of the most painful life experiences that we as humans endure. The bereaved often rely on the support of physicians, clergy members, and funeral home staff to make the process of losing a loved one easier. The majority of funeral homes operate responsibly, treating the deceased with dignity and [..]
Avoid Florida Car Crashes and Stay Safe with These Top Safety Features
Voice assist. Self-parking cars. Forward collision warnings. There are many possible safety features you can get for cars today, but not all of them are created equal. Some are incredibly useful and drastically reduce your chances of getting into an accident (or increase your chances of survival if you are in one), while others fall [..]
What You Need to Know about Florida Electrocution Injuries
If you are hurt by an electrical injury in Florida, you need to know why they happen and how negligence is to blame for many common injuries. In this post, we’re going to detail the most common injuries due to electrocution in Florida and how you can get help if negligence is involved. How Electrical [..]
When Might a Bar Be Liable for Over-serving Alcohol?
Bars and advertisements for alcoholic products often encourage people to “drink responsibly,” but in some cases, the establishments or bartenders serving these drinks may be at least partially liable for a patron’s alcohol-related injury or death. Under certain circumstances, bars can—and should—be held responsible for over-serving patrons. Many states have “dram shop” laws (named [..]
The death of a loved one is traumatic and devastating experience— regardless of the cause. However, the ordeal can be especially upsetting if the death could have been avoided had it not been for the negligent actions of another. In Florida, surviving family members and loved ones may be able to recover compensation for [..]
Summertime is quickly approaching, which means barbecues, family vacations, and a lot of days sitting by the pool. While you and your loved ones enjoy the hot summer weather and cool water, it is important to keep yourself safe. In this post we will be focusing on swimming pool injuries and how to prevent them. [..]
Everything You Should Know About Florida PIP Laws for 2016
Right now, all Florida drivers are required to have car insurance coverage that pays personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, but that may come to an end in 2019 if some lawmakers get their way. Florida currently operates under a “no-fault” system when it comes to paying insurance claims after a car accident. If a [..]
What Happens If My Child Is Injured at Summer Camp?
School is out, but that doesn’t mean your child has to be stuck at home for the summer with no structure and nothing to do. Summer camps are a great way to keep your child active, supervised, and having fun – while also allowing them to branch out. However, summer camps come with a lot [..]
Can You Sue in Florida after a Tire Blowout Injury?
The recent death of a Tampa couple is an example of what might have been a potential product liability lawsuit had they lived. On Thanksgiving Day, Kevin and Michelle Livingston were traveling home from a visit to south Florida. Reports indicate that their sport utility vehicle drove into the waters of a canal along [..]
Where Is the Safest Place for Your Child to Sit in a Car?
When you become a parent, every little decision regarding your child’s safety and development can become a hot debate. We’re not going to tell you how to raise your child, but we do have one piece of advice backed up with statistics from the AAP and NHTSA. When you are driving with your child, [..]
Who Is Liable in Florida If a Rental Car Driver Hits You?
What are your chances of getting hit by someone driving a rental car in Florida? Every year, the state of Florida has 15 million active drivers on its many roads and highways. About 250,000 drivers end up in car crashes annually in Florida. Since almost 85 million visitors come to enjoy Florida every year, [..]
Image: http://pixabay.com/en/dog-man-attacking-canine-training-78117/ When Pets Attack, They Can Cause Serious or Even Fatal Injuries Most people like dogs. How can you resist those adoring eyes, the wagging tail, and the warm, fuzzy head that seems to appear in your lap just when you’re feeling your lowest? So many Americans like dogs, in fact, that [..]
It’s not every day that you get into an accident and need to file a personal injury protection (PIP) suit. This type of litigation may be confusing to many, especially since PIP laws are constantly being debated and changed in Florida. However, it is possible for you to get through this process and receive [..]
This law firm helped me with my car accident case and helped me to get the most of the medical benefits that were needed after the accident, and gave me fair and helpful expectations on what I would recieve back for the pain and suffering after the accident.