The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles recently released preliminary data indicating that 4,841 of the traffic crashes that occurred in 2012 involved a driver using an electronic communication device. Using such a device significantly increases the chances of a car accident occurring and lawmakers in Florida have tried several times to get a law passed that would ban texting and driving. Unfortunately, past efforts have been unsuccessful.
Our West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys know that Florida is one of a minority of states that doesn't have a statewide ban on texting and driving, as more than 39 other states within the U.S. have some type of ban in place. Hopefully, however, this will be changing soon. This April, which also happens to be Distracted Driving Month, the bill is moving forward.
Update on Florida's Distracted Driving Law
A bill on texting and driving is moving through both the Florida House and the Florida Senate. Local 10 recently reported that the House Economics Committee cleared the distracted driving bill- HB 13- by a 16-1 vote. At the same time, the companion bill in the Senate- SB 52- is also moving along.
Having cleared the House Economics Committee, HB 13 is now moving to the floor for debate and for a vote. SB 52 is also going to move towards the full senate for a vote.
The bills would make texting and driving a secondary offense, which means that a driver who is texting cannot get pulled over unless he is also breaking some other primary offense law such as speeding or running a red light. If a texting driver is stopped and ticketed, the driver would be fined $30.00. If a driver offended again and was caught two or more times within a five year period, the texting driver would be fined $60 and would get three points on his or her driver's license. Finally, if a driver was texting and was involved in a car accident, the driver would get six points on his or her license.
These penalties could hopefully help deter at least some texting drivers from engaging in this dangerous distracted driving behavior. Unfortunately, proposed texting and driving bans have repeatedly stalled in Florida in the past because the lawmakers do not believe that the government should be overly intrusive into the private lives of adults.
Despite the past failures, however, lawmakers in favor of the bill are optimistic. Boca Raton Rep. Irv Slosberg, for example, reportedly believes that this will be the year that the bill succeeds. In fact, according to WCTV, Slosberg said that he thinks there is a 95 percent chance that the bill will pass this year.
The bill has never actually made it this far in the House, and it may just have the votes to pass. Public pressure, especially during April's Distracted Driving Month, could potentially help to propel the bill forward as well. For example, a rally called Texting Takes Young Lives was recently held at the historic Florida Capitol, drawing attention to the dangers of distracted driving.
If you've been hurt in a distracted driving accident, contact West Palm Beach injury attorney David J. Glatthorn at 800-990-9394.