You may be aware of the consequences of distracted driving, or you may have experienced distracted driving accidents in Florida first-hand.
In a Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles report, in 2019 alone, more than 271 people died, and around 2,928 others suffered severe injuries from crashes caused by distracted driving. Surprisingly, 1 out of 5 individuals reported dead in distracted driving crashes in 2019 were riding bikes, walking, or just outside a vehicle.
Distracted driving laws in Florida have been enacted to reduce distracted driving incidents. Still, when you’ve become a victim of a distracted driver, contact the Florida car accident attorneys at Eltringham Law Group to seek compensation for your injuries.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving refers to activities diverting a driver’s attention from the wheel. In this context, the term distracted encompasses any inattention when a driver shifts focus from the driving task.
Such distractions often result from electronic devices such as cell phones, navigation systems, or even conventionally, from eating or interacting with passengers.
To drive safely, a driver should focus on the road. They risk crashing whenever a driver engages in any activity other than concentrating on the wheel.
Dangers of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving has significant impacts and often affects drivers differently. For instance, whenever a driver is distracted visually, cognitively, or manually, the chances of engaging in a car crash increase.
Texting and driving in Florida is considered the most alarming form of distraction. Whenever someone reads or sends a text, their eyes are off the road for an average of at least 5 seconds, which is enough time to cover a distance equal to an entire football field when driving at 55 mph.
Drivers who break the law and engage in distracting activities, like applying makeup, operating a radio player, or using a cell phone, can harm other road users and motorists.
Distracted Driving Laws in Florida
Using handheld devices has been considered one of the drivers’ significant causes of distractions. Reports show a clear correlation between the rise in fatal road crashes caused by distracted drivers between 2015 and 2021 and the use of smartphones and integrated social media apps.
Are there any distracted driving laws in Florida?
In 2019 the state of Florida enacted the Wireless Communications While Driving Law to reduce distracted driving incidents.
According to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), distracted driving is any activity that takes a driver’s mind off driving, eyes off the road, or hands off the wheel.
Initially, breaking this law was classified as a secondary offense, but the focus changed in 2020, making texting while driving a primary offense. This law restricts drivers from using any form of communication devices while operating a motor vehicle.
The law gives enforcement officers the mandate to issue citations to motorists found texting while driving and categorizes the use of wireless communications devices in work zones or schools as an offense.
How to Spot a Distracted Driver
If you can spot a distracted driver on time, you stand a better chance of avoiding a wreck and possibly minimizing an accident’s severity.
How can you spot or avoid a distracted driver? Distracted drivers may be:
- Unable to keep their lane position
- Swerving between lanes or driving between them
- Driving at an inconsistent speed — frequently speeding up or slowing down
- Braking suddenly or too late
- Taking unnecessarily long stops at traffic stops
What to Do If You Spot a Distracted Driver
Chances are high that someday you will see a distracted driver on the road. What do you do in case you spot one? As we have highlighted above, distracted driving has adverse impacts – and leads to fatal crashes – so it is advisable to act responsibly whenever you see a distracted driver.
Here’s what to do:
- Drive defensively: Bear in mind that the distracted driver could crash into you, so leave them a wide berth. Where possible, and if it is safe to do so, move ahead or even slow down to allow them to pass.
- Do not engage a distracted driver: Avoid any confrontation with the driver. In case you have tried all possible ways of staying away from the driver’s dangerous behavior, it is recommended to pull over and report the incident to the police.
Contact an Experienced Florida Car Accident Attorney Today
The law requires every driver to take care of other road users. If you get hit and injured by a driver who was not paying attention to the road while driving, you may be eligible for compensation. Your compensation could include economic damages such as lost wages/income as well as past and future medical expenses. However, in proven distracted driving cases you may also be entitled to recover enhanced or aggravated non-economic damages commonly referred to as Pain & Suffering.
Hiring an experienced auto accident attorney in Florida at Eltringham Law Group could increase your chances for fair compensation for all your injuries and damages. Contact us today if a distracted driver has hit you. You can call or reach out online to schedule an initial consultation.
FAQs About Distracted Driving
What is the recommended fine for texting and driving?
The first citation whenever a driver is pulled over for a texting and driving offense is $30, and a resultant loss in points of their license. A subsequent incident attracts a fine of $60 and a loss of three points in case the offense occurs within five years.
Does Florida’s hands-free law allow voice-activated calls?
It’s not illegal in Florida to start or participate in a phone call while driving as long as the operator’s eyes stay on the road and their hands on the wheel.