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States Amp Up Distracted Driving Laws – Florida a Holdout

Government officials around the country are working to make sure that drivers are staying off their cell phones while they’re behind the wheel. Unfortunately, the state of Florida is one of the few states left that places no estrictions on any drivers. According to USA TODAY, lawmakers are looking into harsher penalties and stiffer fines for distracted drivers busted by officers.
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According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, texting bans throughout the country aren’t doing enough to reduce the number of distracted driving accidents. Now, officials are questioning the repercussions, asking if harsher punishments are the answer. If you look at some of the nation’s seat belt laws and their penalties, it’s clear that tougher punishments help to get the cooperation of drivers.

As we said before, the state of Florida has zero laws on the books prohibiting drivers from engaging in distractions behind the wheel. Drivers are allowed to make phone calls and text message as much as they want — all while they’re driving. Our Fellsmere injury lawyers understand the repercussions of the absence of these laws. Every year, we see hundreds of fatalities from distracted driving accidents. Oftentimes, these accidents are the result of a cell phone-using driver.

“It’s more productive to treat distracted driving as a driver education problem,” says Gary Biller with the National Motorists Association

Biller adds that steeper fines aren’t going to help. He says that drivers need to better understand the dangers that are associated with distracted driving.

Drivers in the state of New Jersey could soon face fines of up to $200 if they’re bused using a cell phone or text messaging at the wheel. Officers can also suspend their driver’s license if they’ve been caught doing this enough times. This proposal will be heard by the Senate Budget Committee.

In 2010, there were more than 3,000 people who were killed in distracted driving car accidents. An additional 420,000 people were injured in these accidents. Transportation officials believe that these numbers are actually much higher because drivers are not likely to admit when they caused an accident because of a cell phone or other distraction. The problem has gotten so bad that nearly 20 percent of all accidents are believed to have involved a distracted driver. Studies actually show that driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by more than 35 percent.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Florida has no laws on the books to help to reduce the risks of distracted driving car accidents. For that reason, we’re asking motorists in good faith to put the phone down and drive. The safety of our roadways depends on you. There should never be a reason to answer a phone call or text message behind the wheel. As a matter of fact, drivers who use hand-held cell phones and text messaging devices at the wheel are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.

If you have been involved in a car accident, contact the injury attorney of Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez, LLC for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-561-7777.

Additional Resources:

States consider raising fines for distracted driving, by Shawn Ghuman, USA TODAY

More Blog Entries:

Car Accident in Boca Raton Leaves Teen Driver in Critical Condition, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Attorney Blog, July 5, 2012

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