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How strong is Florida’s distracted driving law?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2024 | Personal Injury

Ever since cellphones became affordable and popular, Florida and the other states have struggled to respond to the resulting distracted driving crisis and curb this dangerous behavior. Florida’s statutory approach to combating distracted driving is called the Wireless Communications While Driving Act, which went into effect in 2019. How does it compare with other states’ laws?

Florida’s law

Florida’s distracted driving law includes these restrictions:

  • Texting or typing on a device while driving is prohibited.
  • Holding a handheld device in school zones or work zones is illegal. It is otherwise allowed.

The fact that the statute generally lets drivers use handheld devices on the road, as long as they are not typing into it, puts Florida behind several other states in terms of preventing distracted driving car crashes.

Comparing to other states

When we look at other states, the contrast becomes clearer:

  • States like Ohio and Michigan have adopted completely hands-free laws that are applicable at all times while driving. Drivers in those states must use voice technology to operate their phones — or wait until they are done driving.
  • Reports indicate significant decreases in distracted driving incidents in these states following the implementation of stricter laws.

For example, in Ohio, distracted driving decreased by 8.1% just six months after its law went into effect. Michigan saw a 14% drop in the initial two months, potentially preventing over 2,000 accidents and saving lives.

Enforcement challenges

Enforcement is another challenge with Florida’s law. The statute requires a police officer to personally witness a driver texting before they can pull them over, which can be hard to do in moving traffic. This enforcement difficulty likely contributes to Florida’s distracted driving-related fatalities, which remain high.

Legal advice after getting hurt by a distracted driver

Distracted driving is not just risky — it’s negligent. This negligence can make drivers financially liable for any damages or injuries caused in an accident. If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver in or around Fort Myers, it’s crucial to understand your rights and potential compensation. Contacting a personal injury attorney can provide you with the necessary information to navigate these complex situations and help ensure that those responsible are held accountable.