FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2013-01-18
As the outset of 2013, 39 states — along with the District of Columbia and Guam — have laws on the books banning text messaging for all drivers. Many states have additional laws that otherwise restrict mobile device use for certain classes of drivers, and 10 states even prohibit all handheld cell phone use while driving.
Florida, however, remains the exception to the rule. Florida currently has no distracted driving law pertaining to cell phone use. What’s more, the state has prohibited local jurisdictions from enacting their own distracted driving bans.
Yet, the winds of change may finally be sweeping across the Sunshine State this year. At least five distracted driving bills have already been prefiled for the 2013 legislative session, with lawmakers hoping to cut down on the texting and driving accidents that plague Florida roads.
Florida bills take on texting, phone use by teenage drivers
Senate Bill 52, and its companion in Florida’s other legislative body, House Bill 13, would outlaw texting, emailing and instant messaging for all Florida drivers. Hands-free texting, the use of navigation devices and simply talking on a cell phone would still be permitted. Senate Bill 74 is a similar measure aimed at texting while driving.
Senate Bill 152 and House Bill 61 focus on a smaller subset of drivers: teens. These measures seek to bar drivers under the age of 18 from using all wireless communications devices while behind the wheel.
Many Florida lawmakers appear to be driven with a new purpose as preparations begin for the 2013 legislative session. The public seems ready to back a texting ban: a recent poll conducted by the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Herald found that more than 70 percent of Florida voters support a statewide prohibition on texting while driving.
“I appreciate and applaud the advocates who are working tirelessly here in Florida to remind drivers to keep their eyes on the road, their hands on the wheel and their focus on driving,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood in an address at the Florida Distracted Summit held in late 2012.
Been the victim of an accident? Talk to a Florida injury attorney
Mobile device use behind the wheel is a serious issue: the most recent state records available show that electronic distractions led to 2,218 vehicle accidents on Florida roads during the first 10 months of 2011. The 2013 legislative session begins in March, and lawmakers will have another shot at passing distracted driving legislation.
Even without a distracted driving law aimed at cell phone use, there are disincentives to inattentive driving. Any driver who causes an accident while distracted can be held liable for resulting harm by accident victims in a personal injury lawsuit.
If you have been injured by a distracted driver, or if a family member has been killed, you may be entitled to compensation for your loss. Do your part to encourage safer driving, and get the money you need to help you through a tough time by contacting a Florida personal injury attorney today.