May 9, 2017

The Imperfect Present: Did you know Florida ranks second only to Louisiana for distracted driving, according to a recent study conducted by the online insurance company EverDrive? The firm compiled data through a motion-sensing app to detect speeding, quick acceleration, hard braking, and other bad driving traits while the phone was in use. 

Cellphone usage is typically blamed for many distracted driving accidents. Anything that reduces a driver’s ability to react or takes a driver’s hands away from the wheel can be a distraction. A whopping 92 percent of U.S. motorists have texted, posted, tweeted, dialed or otherwise used a cellphone while driving a moving vehicle, according to EverQuote, Inc., who used a phone app to track driver behavior.

The Law: In 2013, the Florida legislature adopted the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law,” which bans motorists from “texting, emailing, and instant messaging” on any “wireless communications device” while simultaneously operating a motor vehicle. Florida’s texting ban is considered a secondary violation, which means an officer cannot pull you over solely for texting while driving. The Sunshine State is one of only four states that don’t make texting while driving a primary offense.

How effective are our current distracted driving laws? Floridians have the highest phone usage rate while driving — on 41 percent of trips. In 2016, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles recorded 49,231 distracted-driving crashes, 3,563 injuries and 235 fatalities.

The Fix: Florida lawmakers are looking to approve House Bill 47 sponsored jointly by state Reps. Richard Stark, D-Weston, and Emily Slosberg, D-Boca Raton. HB 47 would make texting while driving a primary offense, meaning a law enforcement officer could cite a motorist solely for texting while driving, and the proposed legislation would increase penalties. 

 Some insurance companies have invited customers to use plug-in devices to measure different types of driving behaviors to allegedly help their customers lower premiums, but the results have been mixed and the technology to measure such metrics and actions is imperfect.

All drivers should know that it is their duty to drive responsibly and to prevent an accident. When they choose to divide their attention between cell phones and other objects, they can be deemed negligent and held responsible for causing an accident.

Call Us: At Corless Barfield Trial Group, our attorneys are familiar with distracted driving cases, and we are experienced in obtaining recoveries for victims of distracted drivers. Even if distracted driving was not the sole or major cause of a car accident, it may be enough to establish a driver’s partial liability. Florida is a comparative negligence state, meaning a jury can assign fault by percentage to different parties whose actions contributed to a given accident. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident involving a distracted driver, you can schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys by calling 813-258-4998 or 877-517-5595.