After years of failing to pass legislation that would ban texting and driving, the Florida legislature finally passed a bill and joined the other 40 states that already had legislation in place. Unfortunately, and as is usually the case, the Florida legislature failed to pass any meaningful legislation.
As a Miami Car Accident Lawyer, I have represented countless victims of distracted driving.
Generally accidents involving distracted drivers are more severe, because of that very reason. So not only do distracted drivers cause more accidents, they cause more serious accidents. The statistics are telling:
Distracted Drivers kill 9 people daily;
Distracted Drivers injure almost 1100 people daily
Almost 20 percent of crashes with resulting injuries are caused by distracted drivers.
SB 52 will will go into effect October 1, 2013, as Florida Statute 316.305
The bill prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other text in a handheld wireless communication device, or sending or reading data in the device, for the purpose of non-voice interpersonal communication. Problem number 1 is that the prohibition is enforceable only as a secondary offense, which means law enforcement officers will have to initiate a traffic stop based on another violation such as speeding, running a stop sign, etc. Then they will somehow have to determine whether the driver was texting. Good luck with that!!!!
Problem number 2: A first violation is punishable as a nonmoving violation, with a fine of $30 plus court costs that vary by county. A second violation committed within 5 years after the first is a moving violation punishable by a $60 fine plus court costs. Hardly enough to serve as a deterrent.
Problem number 3: Drivers are allowed to text at traffic signals or while stopped in traffic. As a cyclist, this poses great risks. Drivers will text while stopped at a red light, and proceed when the light turns green; while still texting.
In order to deter behavior you need the following elements:
1. Certainty of getting caught.
2 Severity of the punishment
3. Swiftness of the punishment.
The new “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law” does none of the above.