Distracted Driving Awareness Month: How Does Florida Stack Up?
Distracted driving has become a growing concern in many communities across the United States. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation has made it a national priority to curb distracted driving, including banning texting and cell phone use for commercial drivers on the federal level, hosting two safety summits on the topic and encouraging state legislatures to adopt aggressive laws. April has also been dubbed Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
Distracted driving is often associated with cell phone use, like texting or talking, but it also refers to drivers reaching for objects in the car, grooming, talking to a passenger, adjusting the radio or other controls, watching television or a video and general lack of attention to the roadway, among other things.
However, the rates of distracted driving aren’t likely to go down anytime soon. Case in point: At the end of 2013, USDOT noted that 15.3 billion texts had been sent every month on average. The Transportation Department estimates that at any given moment, 660,000 drivers are using a cell phone behind the wheel.
Statistics show that distracted driving disproportionately affects younger drivers. Ten percent of all fatal crashes for drivers below the age of 20 were at least partially the result of distracted driving, according to USDOT. The next age group up, drivers in their 20s, account for 27% of all distracted drivers involved in fatal auto crashes.
Nationally, 3,154 people died in fatal crashes as a result of distracted driving in 2013, USDOT reports. The injury statistics are even larger, with an estimated 424,000 people injured as a result of distracted driving, which is an increase from 2012.
Distracted Driving in Florida
Nationally, 45 states and Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands have bans on texting while driving on the books.
In Florida, all drivers are banned from text messaging while operating a vehicle. According to Florida’s State Statute 316.305, no person may operate a motor vehicle while “manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data on such a device for the purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication.”
In Florida, this is considered a “secondary” offense, meaning you cannot be pulled over purely for texting while operating a vehicle. If you are cited for another offense, like speeding or not yielding at a stop sign or are involved in a crash, this could be an added offense you may face.
Florida’s Department of Transportation has also put an emphasis on curbing distracted driving, making it a priority in a recent highway safety plan. FDOT notes that a recent survey of Floridians revealed that 64% of those polled cited distracted or inattentive driving as a serious traffic safety problem.
Have you been injured by a distracted driver in Florida?
Have you been injured by a distracted driver in Florida? If so, you may be eligible to recover financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and other losses. If you’ve been hurt or lost a loved one to a negligent driving texting behind the wheel, contact the experienced Fort Lauderdale lawyers at Boone & Davis. With 35 years in the field, we will be able to guide you through the process of receiving the justice you deserve.