A new bill in Florida could ban drivers from putting on makeup, holding a cellphone, reading or performing other distracting activities.
This falls under a new bill unanimously approved by a Senate committee Wednesday.
The Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee approved the measure after heart-wrenching testimony from parents whose children have been killed in accidents caused by distracted drivers.
Republican Sen. Wilton Simpson said distracted driving has become an epidemic in Florida, and not just involving cars hitting other cars.
“Bike riding, hiking, jogging — all of those things — we’ve had record numbers of deaths in this state by distracted driving,” Simpson said.
As it stands now, it is illegal to text and drive in Florida, but drivers can only be ticketed if they are first pulled over for another reason. Simpson’s bill would make distracted driving a primary offense, meaning law enforcement wouldn’t need another reason to ticket a driver. If enacted, Florida would ease into the law by creating a three-month period where law enforcement would only give warnings. After Dec. 1, police would be able to issue tickets.
Hands-free cell phone use would be allowed, and drivers would be able to check their phones as long as their cars aren’t moving, such as at a stop light or while idling in a parking lot.
Law enforcement officers would also have to record the race and ethnicity of ticketed drivers and an annual report would have to be given to the governor, House speaker and Senate president. Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy asked for that provision to be included due to concerns that a distracted driving ban could be used for racial profiling.
Several parents who lost children in accidents urged the committee to approve the bill.
The Senate bill has been unanimously approved in its first two of four committee stops. A similar House bill hasn’t been heard in committee yet, but House sponsor Rep. Jackie Toledo said House Speaker Jose Oliva has promised it will get a hearing.
It is really no exaggeration to say that distracted driving is an epidemic, and not just in Florida, but throughout the U.S. With advancements in technology, we have seen an exponential increase in the number of drivers distracted by talking, texting or surfing the Internet while operating a car or truck. If you or a loved one has been injured in a distracted driving accident, our Florida Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help.
Distracted driving kills. Distracted driving resulted in 3,166 deaths in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Despite these alarming statistics, people throughout the state and country, especially the youngest and most inexperienced drivers, continue to endanger themselves, their passengers and other drivers sharing the roads by talking or texting while driving.
As car accident attorneys in Florida, we have seen far too many cases of serious injuries and death caused by distracted drivers. We are more than familiar with how to pursue claims for these injuries and deaths. We fight aggressively against negligent drivers and insurance companies that refuse to offer fair compensation for damages. While we strive to settle these cases through skilled negotiations, we are not afraid to take your case to trial if necessary.
Distracted driving is defined as any action that can take a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. Text messaging is known as the most dangerous distraction, but there are others, such as:
Talking on a cell phone
- Eating and drinking
- Interacting with passengers
- Personal grooming, like applying makeup
- Reading, including maps
- Watching videos
- Adjusting a radio or other audio player
- Using a navigation system