As we noted earlier this month, Florida’s distracted driving legislation is beginning to gain traction in both the House and Senate. Most of the debate won’t begin until March. In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at the laws being considered in Florida and how they compare to distracted driving laws in other states.
A National Problem
It’s no secret that distracted driving is dangerous and deadly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, operating a vehicle while using a cellphone lowers brain activity linked to driving by 37 percent. Further, sending text messages behind the wheel creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.
These alarming statistics have already led to distracted driving laws in 39 states, the District of Columbia and Guam. In fact, some states completely ban handheld cellphone use while driving.
Florida’s Proposed Laws
Collectively, the Florida House and Senate are currently considering five distracted driving bills: 1) Senate Bill 52, 2) House Bill 13, 3) Senate Bill 74, 4) Senate Bill 152, and 5) House Bill 61.
Senate Bill 52 and House Bill 13 are essentially the same. They would each ban all drivers from texting, emailing or sending an instant message behind the wheel. However, both bills would only make texting while driving a secondary offense, which means officers could add a $30 fine to a ticket issued to a driver who is stopped for another violation.
Senate Bill 74 proposes a bit stricter law. This bill would ban the use of all handheld devices for any reason and would add six points against the license of any driver who caused a crash in violation of the law.
Finally, Senate Bill 152 and House Bill 61 are again essentially the same. Each bill would entirely prohibit drivers under the age of 18 from using cellphones while driving. Violators would have their licenses suspended for 30 days.
Laws In Other States
Florida’s proposed laws appear to be on trend with current distracted driving bans across the country. According to the federal government website addressing distracted driving, our neighbors Georgia and Alabama have laws similar to the bills proposed in Florida.
Georgia currently bans all cellphone use for beginner drivers and bans texting for all drivers. Alabama also bans cellphone use for new drivers but has no law banning cellphone use for more experienced motorists.
Overall, 10 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld cellphones while behind the wheel. Thirty-three U.S. states and the District of Columbia also prohibit all forms of cellphone use for new or beginner drivers.
A Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
If a distracted driver in Florida has injured you or someone you love, talk to an experienced Florida accident attorney. Call us today at (800) 299-8878 or fill out our convenient online contact form for a free consultation.