It is astonishing how many people in Miami text while driving. Just yesterday, I observed a person behind the wheel driving down Biscayne Blvd., staring at his phone, texting with both of his hands as his car swerved from lane to lane. We wrote a blog just a couple of weeks ago on why Florida regulators must ban the use of hand held devices in Florida to insure that our roads are safer. Governor Rick Scott finally signed a law on May 28, 2013 banning the practice of texting while driving. This new law should impact how a Miami personal injury attorney can recover damages for a client who was hit by a driver who was texting.
Why driving while texting is a very dangerous practice.
Texting while driving is a very dangerous practice as it draws the driver’s attention away from traffic, road conditions and vehicle operation. Drivers, whose focus is on the device they are using rather than the road, are more prone to missing a red light, a stop sign or even seeing a pedestrian crossing the road. The vehicles these people drive can swerve as indicated above, causing other vehicles on the road to react as well as cause accidents of their own. People who engage in this negligent and reckless practice cause numerous automobile accidents each and every day.
Researcher Joshua Cohen of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis reported
on CBS News that they “…calculate that around 2,600 people die each year as a result of this use of the technology.” Another 330,000 people are believed to have been injured by this practice. http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-205_162-531320.html.
In response to the increasing number of automobile accidents caused by texting while driving, numerous lawyers and advocates had urged the Florida legislature to place a ban on this dangerous practice. In response to these pleas, Governor Rick Scott finally signed Florida SB 52 into law which created a new statute (316.305) entitled “Florida ban on texting while driving law.” Although this new statute is a move in the right direction to insure promote safety on Florida roads, this new law will do little to help state attorneys from prosecuting a driver criminally who was texting while driving.
Loopholes in the Florida ban on texting while driving law.
• Stationary Vehicles
The new law does not ban texting for a person who is behind the wheel of “a motor vehicle that is stationary.” As such, drivers who are stopped at traffic lights or stuck in traffic are not prohibited from texting while behind the wheel.
• Permitted use of wireless devices
The new law does not ban the use of wireless devices if they used for the following purposes:
a. The operation or navigation of the motor vehicle;
b. Safety-related information, including emergency, traffic, or weather alerts;
c. Data used primarily by the motor vehicle;
d. Radio broadcasts.
e. Using a device or system for navigation purposes.
• Secondary Offense
The new law renders texting while driving a secondary offense. What this means is that in order for a driver to be cited, that driver would have to be pulled over for a primary offense, such as speeding or careless driving.
In some other states, texting while driving is a primary offense. As such, officers, in these states, can pull over a car and ticket motorists for texting alone.
• First Violation is considered a non-moving violation
Under the new law, a first texting ticket is considered a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a non-moving violation, and comes with $30 fine (plus court costs). A second or subsequent texting ticket will be considered a moving violation (non-criminal) and worth three points on one’s driving record. Even then, the fine is still mild at just $60 (plus court costs).
Evidence of cell phone records admissible in the event of death or personal injury.
The new law states that “in the event of a crash resulting in death or personal injury,” the driver’s wireless phone records “may be admissible as evidence in any proceeding to(help) determine” whether the driver was guilty of texting while driving. In such cases, state attorneys will likely order the driver’s wireless phone records to determine whether the motorist was driving while texting. A trained and experienced personal injury lawyer will also subpoena the cell records to help establish the negligence or recklessness of the driver who caused an accident and injured the attorney’s client. Our firm has been reviewing offending driver’s cell records for years.
Although there are many loopholes in the new law, it is a step forward in rendering our roads safer. This new law will also be useful for personal injury lawyers in determining the negligence of a driver who injured their client in a car accident.
With more than 100 years of combined experience, the Miami Car Accident attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano have helped thousands of victims of auto accidents, tractor trailer accidents, motorcycle accidents, accidents at amusement parks or any other kind of accidents recover the funds they were owed. Call us today at 305-595-2400 for a Free Consultation.