Every 36 hours, someone in the state of Florida dies because of a distracted driver. In 2015, Florida suffered from 45,700 distracted driving crashes in the state. According to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, this figure translates into 125 distracted driving crashes per day at a rate of more than five crashes per hour.
Distracted driving alone caused 12.2% of Florida’s car accidents in 2015 and 15.4 percent of crashes resulting in injuries. Worse, 7.4 percent of all fatal accidents are directly attributable to distracted driving.
It is all too easy to view drunk driving as Florida’s greatest driving safety risk, and that is indeed true. Still, this data indicates distracted driving is not far behind when it comes to Florida safety risks on the road.
April may be the state’s designated month to raise awareness for distracted driving, but data like this suggests Floridians need a year-round reminder to stay focused on the road when driving.
Florida’s Laws on Distracted Driving
State lawmakers lament the fact that Florida is lagging behind when it comes to instituting the laws needed to crack down on distracted driving. Analysis conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association indicated that 46 states have tougher legislation to prevent distracted driving. In 42 of our 50 states, there is some form of ban on drivers using a phone and a handheld device.
Florida, by comparison, makes texting and driving a secondary offense. As a result, a driver can only be cited for texting and driving if they have been pulled over for a separate driving infraction. Florida is in rare company with such a legal framework since 41 states allow a police officer to pull a vehicle over if they spot a driver texting and driving.
Florida’s distracted driving issues have become so problematic that some Floridians are left hoping that autopilot technologies could be the answer to solving Florida’s distracted driving dangers.
While texting and driving are indeed prohibited in Florida under the 2016 Florida Statutes § 316.305, Florida law treats sending a text message while driving as a noncriminal or civil infraction. A driver has no points assessed on their first offense.
However, two points may be added to the primary offense of texting and driving if the texting occurred in a school safety zone. Additionally, three points are assessed on a second texting offense if the second offense occurs within five years of the first texting violation. Finally, six points are added if the texting and driving behavior results in an accident.
As it stands, the current Florida law is mostly toothless when it comes to sending a deterrent message. For this reason, lawmakers have made recent attempts to revise § 316.305 by introducing tougher texting and driving language into Florida law.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a distracted driving accident, John F. Greene will help you fight for the compensation you deserve. John is a Destin auto accident attorney who represents injured victims from his Destin office. Additionally, he helps injured victims throughout Northwest Florida and the Emerald Coast, including Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Bay, and Walton Counties. John also helps victims receive compensation if they were injured in the communities of Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville and Panama City.
If you or a loved one deserve compensation for injuries caused by a distracted driver’s negligence, contact John F. Greene or call 850-424-6833.