Traffic laws and enforcement of those regulations through citations are intended to minimize violations and keep roads safe. When law enforcement agencies fail to enforce traffic laws, they could fail in providing a safeguard for other motorists sharing the road. A new Florida law against texting while driving is intended to prevent distracted driving and hold drivers accountable. What if the law goes unenforced? Is it still beneficial to reduce texting and driving on Florida roads?
According to recent reports, Florida’s texting and driving ban has gone largely unenforced in Broward County and throughout the state. Though the law went into effect in October, there have been few citations issued in South Florida and statewide. Our Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys are dedicated to preventing accidents and providing advocacy for individuals who are impacted by collisions. We are also committed to raising awareness to prevent accidents caused by distracted driving.
Driving while texting is notoriously dangerous and causes thousands of accidents, injuries and fatalities every year in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that texting behind the wheel increases the likelihood of an accident by 23 times. Understanding the grave nature of these risks, Florida legislators passed a law to ban texting while behind the wheel. At the time, this was a critical piece of legislation to reduce distracted driving and to prevent future accidents. Despite the good intentions of Florida’s lawmakers, law enforcement agents claim that the law is difficult to enforce.
In many cases, texters are able to keep their activities unseen and they aren’t caught until it is too late. In the state of Florida, it is now a primary offense to text while driving. New statistics indicate that there were only 393 tickets issued statewide since the law has passed. The highest number of citations were in Miami-Dade County at 105 citations last year; however, there were only 32 citations issued in Broward County.
Critics of the new law also point out that the penalties for offenders are light. First offenders will only be forced to pay a $30 fine. Second offenders only have to pay $60 and lose 3 points on their licenses. Despite the high risk of texting and driving, the legal fines and penalties affiliated with breaking the texting and driving law are probably not a huge deterrent.
Legislators and some law enforcement agents suggest that the mere knowledge that texting and driving is illegal should deter some drivers. The idea is that knowing that texting and driving is breaking the law will give some drivers pause before they pick up their phone. Others see the lack of enforcement as an affront to public safety. If no one is ever pulled over and fined, the law is not as effective as it could be.
The enforcement of texting and driving bans has been compared to the first seat belt laws in the 1980s. As primary offenses, rather than secondary offenses, the number of citations should increase in the next couple of years. Our lawyers have experience with cases involving the devastation caused by distracted drivers and urge all motorists to put down their cell phones when behind the wheel.
Contact Freeman Injury Law for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-561-7777.
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