One of the most common causes of road accidents in Florida is distracted driving. Studies show that one in four car crashes are caused by a distracted driver. In 2016 alone, distracted driving led to about 50,000 accidents across Florida. Accidents caused by distracted driving led to 220 fatalities and 3,069 injuries in 2017. This makes Florida the second-worst state for distracted driving accidents, Louisiana being at the first position.
Given the rise in the number of accidents caused by distracted driving, Florida has adopted a number of new laws recently. These laws seek to make such activities illegal which may distract a driver.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is defined as operating a motor vehicle while being distracted by a secondary activity like using a cell phone, applying makeup or adjusting the music player. Such distractions are dangerous as they pose a danger to the life and property of your person as well as others.
An average driver, traveling at 55 miles per hour, takes about the length of a football field to come to a halt when he or she has to stop suddenly. For a distracted driver, this same distance is multiplied as the driver’s attention is not focused. Being focused and applying brakes timely can be crucial in many situations where failure to do so may cost the life and well-being of an individual.
Driver distractions are typically categorized into three types:
- Visual Distractions: As the name suggests, this type of distractions force you to take your eyes off the road. These may include reading the station on the radio, texting, dialing a phone number, adjusting a coffee cup or simply looking away from the road.
- Cognitive Distractions: This type of distraction occurs when you focus your mental attention away from the road and driving. A typical example is talking on the phone. While you do so, you are processing what is being said on the phone instead of focusing on the road.
- Manual Distractions: A manual distraction is when you are forced to take your hands off the steering wheel. Examples include applying makeup, adjusting climate controls or adjusting the kids.
Accidents caused by distracted driving may lead to penalties as well a civil lawsuit if personal injury was involved. If you have been involved in such an accident, contact an accident lawyer in Lakeland, FL right away.
Florida Distracted Driving Laws
In legal terms, Florida has distracted driving laws that are not as strict as many other states. For instance, it is not illegal for a driver to take a phone call while driving. Although this counts as a distraction, Florida laws prohibit talking on phone while driving only in specific circumstances.
According to the Florida Statutes 316.306, you must not take a phone call while driving through a school crossing, school zone or a work zone. A work zone area is defined as an area where there is active construction activity such as the presence of construction personnel or the operation of construction equipment near the road.
Violation of this statute is a moving traffic violation. The penalty for the offense is $60 base fine which doesn’t include other related fees and court costs. In addition, 3 assessment points will be assessed against the driver license.
Until recently, Florida didn’t hold texting while driving as an offense. However, this has changed with changes to the Florida Statutes 316.305 which were introduced in 2019. These changes are contained in the Wireless Communications While Driving Law.
Wireless Communications While Driving Law
This important piece of legislation has imposed a ban on texting while driving in Florida. As per the changes to the statute section, law enforcement personnel can now stop Florida drivers for texting or typing on their phones while driving. This includes composing an email or entering letter, symbols or numbers into a wireless device for any other reason.
For a first texting while driving offense, the penalties are a base $30 fine. The driver may also face other costs and court fees. However, the offense will not result in any points assessed against the driver license. The first offense is considered a non-moving traffic violation.
For a second offense in this category within five years of the first offense, the driver will face a $60 fine not including other court costs and related expenses. In the case of the second offense, 3 points will be assessed against the driver license. The second offense is regarded as a moving traffic violation.
Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer in Lakeland, Florida
If you have been hit and injured in a distracted driving accident, you may be entitled to compensatory damages. You must contact a reliable car accident lawyer in Lakeland, Florida at the earliest to explore the option of a damages claim. Here at Burnetti P.A., we specialize in helping accident victims get a fair settlement for their injuries and other losses. Contact us today to book a FREE consultation with our attorneys.