States Amp Up Distracted Driving Laws, Florida Still Lagging Behind

Safe driving advocates continue to yank on the coat tails of state lawmakers, asking them to beef up distracted driving laws. Some state lawmakers are listening and are looking into creating steeper fines and tougher penalties for those who are busted driving while engaging in certain distractions.
Lawmakers in the state of Florida aren’t listening — we are one of the few states left with no distracted driving laws on the books. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), all drivers in the state of Florida are allowed to make phone calls and text message at the wheel whenever they please. Even teenage drivers and school bus drivers have no rules governing distraction. Ohio, one of the last holdouts, just passed a law.

Our Naples car accident lawyers understand that distracted driving accidents are completely preventable. We may not have distracted driving laws in Florida, but we’re asking drivers to put down the cell phone and the text messaging device while in the driver’s seat to make our roadways safer for everyone. Not only are you jeopardizing your own safety by taking that phone call while driving, but you’re jeopardizing the safety of everyone around you, too.

There are some who are against raising the penalties for being busted driving while engaging in distractions. Gary Biller of the National Motorists Association is one of them. He says that more expensive fines aren’t going to do the trick. He says that transportation officials and other safe driving advocates need to concentrate on changing drivers’ attitudes.

“It’s more productive to treat distracted driving as a driver education problem,” says Biller.

California has already increased their fines. Now drivers face a $30 fine for a first time offense and then $60 fine for a subsequent offense.

Connecticut has gone from a $100 fine to a $125 fine for a first-time offense, from $150 to $250 for a second-time offense and from $200 to $400 for the third-time offense and on.

New Jersey is in the process of sponsoring a measure to get their fines increased for distracted driving, according to USA TODAY. Eight states, including New York and California, ban all hand-held cell phone use by drivers. Most others have passed bans on text messaging.

Regardless of laws, fines and penalties, drivers are asked to keep safety a top priority. There’s no phone call or text message that should be worth the risk of injuring someone or killed yourself or an innocent motorist. Driving requires our full attention. A number of studies have proven that attention cannot be safely divided between driving and any another task. If your full attention isn’t on the task at hand — safe driving — then you’re increasing your risks for an accident.

You’re urged to keep your phone in your glove box or your back seat. When it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind and you’ll be less likely to use it. You can set up a voicemail notification that alerts drivers that you may not be answering because you’re driving and you’ll call them back when you stop. If you need to take a call or deal with a text message, you can hand the duties off to a passenger so that they can do so safely and so you can keep your attention on the road.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident in Naples or any of the nearby areas, contact our injury lawyers to set up a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-283-2900.

Additional Resources:

States consider raising fines for distracted driving, by Shawn Ghuman, USA TODAY
More Blog Entries:

Hit-and-Run Accident in Naples Lands Driver in Jail, Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, July 14, 2012
Teen Car Accidents in Fort Myers Result of Inexperience, Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, June 25, 2012

Contact Information