Earlier this year, we discussed two proposed laws, House Bill 47 and House Bill 69, that would have made it a primary offense to text and drive in Florida. Under existing state law, texting while driving is a secondary offense, which means that it is against the law, but the police cannot stop a driver solely because he or she is texting behind the wheel.
Unfortunately, both of these bills died in the Florida legislature over the summer. As reported by the Sun Sentinel, “[In Florida], you can be stopped for a broken taillight or an expired license plate, but you’re free to text and drive unless a police officer has another reason to stop you.” According to the Crestview Bulletin, our local police chief believes Florida’s limited texting-while-driving statute is a contributing factor in the increasing number of accidents we have seen in recent years:
“Until distracted driving is elevated to a primary offense, drivers can expect more accidents from people more engaged with texting and phone calls than they are with their driving.”
The Statistics on Distracted Driving
Each year, there hundreds of thousands of auto accidents in the United States that are a direct result of texting behind the wheel and other driving distractions. While teens and drivers in their early twenties are among the most-likely culprits, older adult drivers make up approximately one-third of all texting drivers according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA also reports:
- Drivers in the South are among those most likely to manipulate a handheld device while driving.
- Drivers in urban areas are twice as likely as rural drivers to manipulate a handheld device while driving.
- Manipulating handheld devices while driving is equally common on weekdays and weekends.
- Drivers are twice as likely to manipulate a handheld device while driving alone as compared to driving with a passenger.
- The percentage of drivers observed manipulating handheld devices while driving has increased steadily over the past decade.
The Risks of Distracted Driving for Other Motorists
There is no question that texting behind the wheel and other forms of distracted driving can be extremely dangerous. Thousands of drivers and passengers lose their lives to distracted driving accidents each year, and countless more suffer serious, if not life-changing, injuries. With impairing effects comparable to those of low-level intoxication, distracted driving is equally dangers at all times of the day, and accident data suggest that drivers are willing to take more risks on sunny days than in bad weather. While texting and driving may not be a primary offense in Florida, it is still negligent, and those who get injured and lose loved ones to distracted drivers deserve to be fairly compensated.
Speak with an Auto Accident Attorney in Crestview, FL
If you have been injured or lost a family member in a car or truck accident caused by a distracted driver, our attorneys can help you fight for just compensation. To schedule a free initial consultation at our law offices in Crestview, please call (850) 682-2757 or contact us online today.