If you are a driver in Florida, you probably know that texting and driving is a serious safety concern. You have probably been at a red light and looked over to see a driver putting on makeup. Maybe you have been driving down the interstate only to pass a person who is looking at his or her phone while also driving at least 70 miles per hour. Distraction is a major concern, and it places everyone at an increased chance of an accident.
State lawmakers have been trying for a while to pass measures that could increase penalties for using a phone while driving. As texting and driving is one of the leading causes of distraction-related car accidents, lawmakers are hopeful this could reduce the overall number of accidents. Recently, a Senate committee passed a bill that could eventually ban all types of phone-related distracted driving.
What does this mean for Florida drivers?
The committee passed this bill after hearing the testimonies of several families that are grieving the loss of loved ones killed by distracted drivers. Right now, texting and driving is only a secondary offense. This means that even if law enforcement witnesses a person texting, they cannot write a ticket unless the driver is also committing another offense. This includes violations like speeding, failure to stop at a stop sign and more.
Distracted driving is an epidemic in the state, and if this law passes, it could bring harsher penalties to negligent drivers. Before the law goes into effect, police would have a three-month period where they only give out warnings. After this period is over, they can start ticketing drivers. The law would allow drivers to use Bluetooth or hands-free devices while driving.
The rights of injured victims
Regardless of whether the law passes, victims of distracted driving accidents have the right to seek compensation for their pain and suffering through a personal injury claim. Florida law allows for a victim or family to pursue legal accountability from the person who made the decision to text or use his or her phone in any way while also operating a vehicle.
If you are a victim, you may be wondering what legal options are available to you. It may help to start with a complete evaluation of your case in order to understand the best way forward. You do not have to navigate the claims process alone.