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Florida Bills Aim to Decrease Risk of Distraction-Related Car Accidents in Lake Worth

You wouldn’t drive down the road looking at your floor mats. So why do drivers make their way down the road looking at their cell phones? Often, they’re texting at the wheel. It’s illegal for drivers to text in 35 states. Florida, however, is not one of those. Because of this, distraction-related car accidents in Lake Worth continue to plague our roadways.
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The law could soon be changing. The sponsor of an anti-texting House bill, Republican Rep. Ray Pilon of Sarasota, says the bill is currently being mulled over by those in the transportation and highway safety subcommittee. The chair, Rep. Brad Drake, says the law is unnecessary. A number of similar bills have been shot down in the state of Florida, as some lawmakers see it as government intrusion, according to The News-Press.

Our Lake Worth car accident attorneys have seen it, too. Drivers throughout the state are taking their hands off of the wheel, their eyes off of the road and endangering innocent people. The state of Florida currently has a reckless driving law in effect, which lawmakers believe adequately covers the issue of texting and driving. As Jim Harper, the director of information policy studies for the Libertarian Cato Institute says, it would be like lawmakers going after every single activity that could potentially threaten road safety. While that would be nice, it’s just not ideal. He compares the anti-texting laws to cup holders. He says after cup holders were introduced into vehicles, there was a surge of motor vehicle accidents. Still, lawmakers didn’t run out and prohibit cup holders.

It’s Senate Bill 416 and House Bill 299 that are looking to stop drivers from texting behind the wheel. While the Senate bill has already made its way swiftly through three committees with just two nay votes, the House Bill has been stalled.

Under both bills, texting while driving would be considered a secondary offense. This means that an officer can only cite you for it after you’ve been pulled over for another offense, such as running a red light or speeding.

If you’re busted, you’d have to pay a $30 fine for your first offense. A second offense would run you $60. If you caused an accident while you were texting, you’d get six points on your license.

“It’s difficult to legislate every kind of human behavior and then try and enforce it,” Drake said. “People just need to be responsible for themselves.”

According to federal officials, drivers are nearly 25 times more likely to get into an accident while texting. The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) even has an internal rule prohibiting troopers from texting on the job.

The Highway Loss Data Institute says that anti-texting laws don’t help. The Institute ran studies in 2010 and concluded that the number of accidents didn’t decrease after states passed such laws.

If you or a family member has been injured or killed in a distraction-related car accident in Lake Worth, Hollywood or elsewhere throughout South Florida, contact Freeman, Mallard, Gonzalez & Sharp to discuss your rights. Call us for a free consultation at 1-800-529-2368.

More Blog Entries:

Fatal Florida Crash Illustrates Need to Practice Safe Driving Habits, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Attorney Blog, January 21, 2012

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