The long battle to make it illegal for Florida drivers to text while driving may soon be over. Several bills are moving through the state House in Tallahassee aimed at stopping texting drivers from getting behind the wheel.
Federal highway statistics show 8,000 accidents a day are caused by distracted drivers nationwide, while more than 25,000 were reported in Florida last year alone. State lawmakers say they see increasing support for such a bill.
They are looking to get Florida to join the 39 states that prohibit texting while driving said they have gained the upper hand.
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State Sen. Nancy Detert filed Senate Bill 52 which seeks secondary enforcement status, meaning police need another reason to stop and cite violators, such as weaving or speeding. State Rep. Doug Holder has the companion bill in the House (HB 13), while state Sen. Maria Lorts Sachs’ SB 74 seeks a ban on use of handheld devices. All three bills call for a 6-point penalty for causing a wreck while violating the distracted driving law. Holder said he thought œthe timing is right for Florida’s first distracted driving law. œI think we are going to get something passed.”
Florida is one of the few states without a single distracted driving law. œWe have the power, said Russell Hurd, whose daughter was killed by a texting driver near Orlando. œWe must have a ban on texting while driving.
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Safety on Florida’s roads and highways is not promoted by driving while typing. Texting distracts drivers, takes their eyes off the road and leads to weaving in and out of lanes and abrupt ” or belated ” stops. How much of a distraction? Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field ” blind ” at 55 mph, according to Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute.
Last year, 71 percent of likely voters surveyed by telephone supported a state law banning texting while driving. The pollsters, Mason-Dixon, interviewed 800 Floridians likely to vote in the general election. The margin of error: 3.5 percentage points.
Evidence from the roads is beginning to pile up. Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into car crashes serious enough to sustain injury, according to a study cited by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Virginia Tech study found that text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.
Just because there is not currently a law against texting while driving in Florida you are by no means barred from recovering damages in a civil lawsuit from a texting driver. If a driver negligently causes an accident by texting, he or she can be held liable for a variety of harms, including any resulting property damage, costs of medical treatment, compensation for pain and suffering, and lost wages. If a family member was killed by a driver’s careless texting, a wrongful death lawsuit can help survivors recover monetary compensation for most of the same losses as with injuries, in addition to reasonable funeral expenses.
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If your life has been impacted by someone texting behind the wheel, contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your area. Your attorney will help you obtain the compensation you deserve, and will give you the chance to discourage the practice of texting while driving in your own small way. Contact us at Edwards & Ragatz, P.A. today.
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