In Florida, as in many other states, drivers have a legal duty to use reasonable care anytime they are engaged in something that might foreseeably cause harm. This includes avoiding distractions while driving. Unfortunately, many drivers do not take this responsibility seriously and engage in activities that could jeopardize their safety and the safety of others on the road. If someone your safety by causing you to be injured in a car accident then contacting a car accident lawyer may be necessary.
Distracted driving is a serious problem in Florida. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, an average of 370,000 crashes happen in this state each year. A large percentage of these accidents are caused by distracted drivers.
There are many things that can distract a driver, but one of the most common distractions is cell phone use. Many drivers think they can safely text or email while driving, but this is simply not the case. Texting or emailing requires a driver to take their eyes off the road and their hands off the wheel, which increases the risk of an accident. In addition, most would argue that any cognitive distraction that changes the driver’s focus from driving can cause an accident.
Under Florida law, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communication device or while sending or reading data on such a device for purposes of non-voice interpersonal communication. This includes texting, emailing, and instant messaging. Using social media such as facebook, instagram, youtube, twitter, while driving result in a high level of distraction. The only exceptions to this rule are for emergency situations or for receiving messages relating to radio broadcasts, safety-related information (traffic and weather alerts), or navigation.
The consequences for violating Florida’s texting while driving law can be severe. A first-time offender can be fined up to $30. A second offense within five years can result in a fine of up to $60 and three points on the driver’s license. A third offense within five years can result in a fine of up to $120 and four points on the driver’s license.
In addition to the financial penalties, a texting while driving conviction can also lead to an increase in insurance rates. And, if someone is killed or injured as a result of a distracted driver, the penalties can be even more severe, including jail time.
It’s not just cell phones, there are many different types of distracting driving behaviors, here are the most common cognitive distractions: adjusting the radio or navigation system, eating or drinking, talking to passengers, and daydreaming. Anytime a driver takes their hands off the wheel, their eyes off the road, or their mind off of driving, they are increasing their risk of being involved in an accident. Distracted driving is a serious problem that can have devastating consequences.
To help avoid being involved in a distracted driving accident, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and to take steps to avoid them. Before driving, plan your route and review traffic conditions. Put away all electronic devices and do not use them while driving. If you have passengers in the car, ask them to help with anything that might distract you from driving. And always stay focused on the task of driving, so you can react quickly and safely to any potential hazards.
Of the fatal crashes in 2021 where a cause was reported, 27% were distraction-related.
This is a significant increase from 2020, when 19% of fatal crashes were caused by distracted driving.
National Distracted Driving Awareness Month is an annual campaign to help raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and to encourage drivers to make a commitment to drive distraction-free. The campaign runs every April.
During the month of April, law enforcement officers across the state will be on the lookout for drivers who are texting or otherwise using their cell phones while behind the wheel. Drivers who are caught violating Florida’s distracted driving law will be subject to the same penalties as any other time of year.
If you are stopped for texting while driving, you may be asked to show your cell phone to the officer to prove that you were not using it at the time of the stop. If you refuse to do so, you may be cited for obstruction of justice, which is a misdemeanor offense.
If you are involved in an accident with a distracted driver, you may be able to hold them liable for your injuries and damages. To do so, you will need to prove that they were texting or otherwise using their cell phone at the time of the accident and that this distraction caused or contributed to the accident. This can be difficult to do, but if you are able to prove it, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, or if you have lost a loved one in a distracted driving accident, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. An experienced lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Call, set an appointment, and drive to our West Palm Beach Law office to begin work on your case.