A New Law Aims to Lower Accidents Caused by Distracted Drivers
According to the U.S. government’s website, Distraction.gov, nearly half a million people were injured in car crashes caused by distracted drivers in 2012 alone. Clearly, distracted driving, which includes activities such as texting, is an epidemic. This has led states like Maryland and Florida to pass laws banning texting while driving.
Although many states have laws on the books that aim to reduce distracted driving, lawmakers’ efforts have had mixed results. These differences are especially obvious in Florida and Maryland – two states with contrasting cell phone driving laws.
Texting and Driving Law in Florida
In Florida, current law bans texting and driving, but motorists are still permitted to talk on cell phones while driving. Florida’s texting and driving law is also a secondary offense, which means a driver can’t be pulled over for texting while driving unless he or she is already committing another independent traffic violation. One Florida news outlet reports that the Florida Highway Patrol has issued just 400 tickets throughout the state for texting and driving since the law took effect on October 1, 2013.
Critics of the relatively new law point out that the penalties for violating the ban – a $30 fine and phone confiscation for offenders who cause serious injury or death – are too weak and don’t provide a strong enough deterrent to make a true difference on Florida’s roads.
The Contrast in Maryland
By contrast, Maryland banned the use of all handheld devices in October 2013, which has led to police issuing 6,800 tickets in a span of just seven months. Additionally, Maryland’s law makes distracted driving a primary offense, which means police don’t have to wait for motorists to violate a separate traffic law before ticketing them for cell phone use. Furthermore, Maryland hits offenders where it hurts: their wallets. First-time offenders must pay a fine of $83. The fine for two-time offenders goes up to $140. Subsequent offenses cost $160 each.
Helping Victims of Distracted Drivers
At Emerson Straw, PL, we believe everyone deserves to be safe on the road. Our state is home to a significant number of tourists. As a vacation hotspot, our highways see a lot of traffic. If you have been injured by someone who is responsible for causing an accident while being distracted on their cell phone, we can help you pursue a claim for your injuries. If you have lost someone you love due to the negligent actions of a distracted driver, we can help you file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover the damages you and your family deserve. Contact our offices in St. Petersburg at 727-821-1500 or St. Augustine at 904-758-3324 today to speak to an attorney about your prospective case.