At the conclusion of 2019, new cellphone laws were introduced in the hopes of further reducing the number of distracted driving accidents that occur in Florida. Before October of 2019, drivers were only held legally responsible if they were seen texting on a cellular device while behind the wheel.
Now, the government has taken matters to the next level and drivers are no longer allowed to even hold a cellular device in their hands while they are driving through a school zone. This new law became effective as of January first and drivers can now be held legally accountable and get tickets for driving with a phone in their hands while they are in a school zone.
Texting while driving is a serious problem, especially in Florida. Florida has a reputation as the second-worst state for having collisions that occur due to distracted driving. Distracted driving statistics show that 92% of drivers admit having texted while driving. The NHTSA further reveals that over 220,000 teenagers were treated for injuries for collisions related to distracted driving in 2015.
The road is a dynamic place, and drivers need to be attentive at all times in order to react properly in the case of sudden occurrences. If a person is busy texting or scrolling, they could easily miss a light or even hit a pedestrian who decided to suddenly try and run across the street. Of course, in a case where the pedestrian was also at fault, the legal allegations will not be as dire, but if a person had their phone in their hand when the collision occurred they only make matters harder for themselves when it comes to making claims in court.
Thanks to the 2019 amendment to the Florida Statute 316.305 (3)(a), driving with a phone in one’s hand is now a primary offense and no longer seen as a secondary offense. Police officers can actively search for drivers who are operating their vehicles with a phone in their hand and can issue tickets accordingly.
There are always exceptions to the rules
In certain cases, a person is still allowed to use their phone when their vehicle is stationary (stopped at a red light or on the side of the road). This includes:
· Reporting a crime to officials
· Calling for help in a state of emergency
· Using the device without touching it in order to get directions
· Receiving information regarding traffic or weather conditions
It is always safer to refrain from using one’s cellular device while behind the wheel. To reduce the chances that a person will need to use it while driving, drivers should learn the route beforehand. They should also conclude any conversation they are currently in and only resume it when they have reached their destination. In the case a person does end up getting into an accident, calling a qualified car accident attorney will generally be required.
This new law may be stricter and may reduce the convenience drivers previously experienced but the chances of accident rates going down seem promising, and well worth the change