Florida, like other states in the nation, is dealing with an upsurge of car accidents caused by texting while driving. Using a cell phone to compose and send or read a text message while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle is a specific and very dangerous form of distracted driving.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that distracted driving accidents killed 3,092 people and injured an estimated 416,000 more across the country in 2010. “But, because text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction,” the NHTSA says.
As of October 1, 2013, texting while driving is prohibited for all drivers in Florida as well as in 40 other states.
If one is caught texting behind the wheel in Florida, they are subject to a fine and court costs. In Hillsborough County, for instance, the fines and costs would come out to $103. Drivers are assessed DMV points if they commit repeat texting offenses, text while going through a school zone or cause a crash because of their texting.
Even though distracted driving accidents kill thousands of drivers, passengers and pedestrians every year in our state, Florida has no laws that prohibit distracted driving.
In its 2010 Florida Traffic Crash Statistics Report (the latest available), the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles does not address texting while driving. The report does say that “driver distraction” was a contributing cause in more than 2,000 car wrecks in Florida in 2010. These distracted driving accidents included seven fatalities, 1,474 accidents that resulted in a personal injury and 542 that resulted in property damage only.
Meanwhile, the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) started tracking electronic distraction crash factors in 2011. The FHP said 3,052 crashes in Florida involved electronic devices, and 149 were specifically blamed on texting.
Any action that draws attention away from the safe operation of a motor vehicle is a form of “distracted driving.” This includes texting or talking on a cell phone, as well as adjusting devices such as radios and GPS units, watching videos, reading, eating, combing hair or talking to passengers. But more and more research indicates that texting while driving creates an especially deadly risk to drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
Sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) study states. In a car going 55 mph, this is the same as driving the length of an entire football field blindfolded. Texting while driving creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted, the DOT says.
Unfortunately, younger drivers, who are also less experienced drivers, are most likely to engage in texting while driving and thus divert their attention from the road ahead of them. In a 2011 survey, the AAA Foundation discovered that 23 percent of young adult respondents (age 17 to 26) readily admitted that they or their friends had engaged in texting while driving.
In December 2011, when asked in an NHTSA survey about sending text messages or e-mails while driving, 18 percent of all drivers said they had done so. Drivers younger than 24 years old were much more likely to text while driving (44 percent of male drivers and 49 percent of female drivers) than older drivers. After a driver turns 25, they are less likely to engage in texting while driving, from 26 percent of drivers in the 25- to 34-year-old group to less than 1 percent of drivers age 65 and older, the NHTSA found.
Even though no law prohibits texting while driving, it may still be grounds for a legal claim if you or a family member is injured in an accident caused by a texting driver. A claim may allow you to recover money for your pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress and other losses.
At the Disparti Law Group, P.A., we will do everything we can to make sure that the driver who caused the texting-while-driving accident that caused your injuries and his or her insurance company are held accountable. We will fight vigorously to get you the maximum compensation allowed under Florida law.
To learn more about how our texting-while-driving accident attorneys can help you after a texting crash, contact us today at 866-596-7638 or fill out our online form.