Florida Trails Far Behind in Passing Adequate Distracted Driving Laws

When motorists or passengers suffer injuries in a car accident or tractor-trailer wreck, a personal injury lawyer's most important role is to assess the circumstances of the crash to identify all potentially liable parties. Whether the accident was primarily caused by reckless behavior, intoxication or driver distraction, a review of witness accounts, police reports and other evidence can unearth negligence to justify full compensation for injury victims.

Unfortunately, Florida has lagged behind other states in criminalizing certain types of driver behavior that are clearly linked to vehicle accident rates: indulging in electronic distractions that divert a driver's attention from the road ahead. Along with Montana, South Dakota, South Carolina and Hawaii, Florida lawmakers have failed to pass any bans on texting or using cell phones while driving.

Unlike those other states, Florida law goes even further by prohibiting counties and municipalities from enacting their own bans. Around the country, statutes and local ordinances have created common-sense prohibitions on using handheld devices, even if in some cases the bans only apply to young drivers, bus drivers or other select groups that are particularly vulnerable to distracted driving.

Data Shows That Distracted Drivers Are More Likely to Cause Car Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides a wide range of information that shows the clear dangers of distracted driving due to texting and phone conversations. Drivers should be aware that dangerous distractions also result from activities such as talking to passengers, eating or drinking, grooming in a rearview mirror, programming a navigation system or adjusting MP3 or CD players and radios.

Basic intuition alone allows most of us to understand that the explosion in texting activity over the past decade has led to an epidemic of inattentive driving. Nearly 40 state legislatures have accepted the proof of this public safety hazard and passed laws against sending instant messages or text messages from mobile devices while driving.

In recent decades, every state has overcome resistance to stiffening of drunk driving laws, and American streets and highways are safer because of tough penalties and public education campaigns. Yet even before it was criminalized, evidence of driver intoxication was a potent factor in deciding whether a motorist was at fault in a serious or fatal car crash.

The same is currently true for driving while texting in Florida. A car and truck accident attorney can seek out phone records and witness accounts to help prove that a driver's attention was diverted from the road ahead and the safety of others.