Sending text messages while driving diverts a driver’s attention. This distraction can cause judgment issues and delays in reaction time, which could lead to Sarasota auto accidents and crashes throughout Florida. Although numerous studies have shown that using a cell phone while driving is dangerous and delays a driver’s reaction time as much as having a .08 blood alcohol content, texting in Florida is still legal.
While Florida is one of the few states without a law banning texting or cell phone use while driving, this may change in the near future if legislators have anything to say about it.
There are currently six bills under review during this legislative season that would ban or restrict drivers from sending text messages behind the wheel. Representative Ray Pilon (R-Sarasota) and State Senator Nancy Detert (R-Venice), representing parts of Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties, introduced twin bills that would ban text messaging while driving.
Detert’s Senate Bill 416 was passed by two committees that considered the legislation. First, it was cleared by the Senate Committee on Transportation on December 7, and then the Committee on Communications, Energy and Public Utilities endorsed the bill on January 12.
Pilon’s House Bill 299 has yet to be considered in committee, however.
If SB 416 and HB 299 are passed, it would put an end to Florida drivers texting and emailing behind the wheel of a vehicle. The bills do not allow police officers to pull drivers over solely for operating a cell phone, but police may pull a driver over for another offense and then site the driver with a “secondary offense” for typing or retrieving electronic communications. The bill also assists officers in obtaining the cell phone records of drivers who are involved in Florida crashes.
Will Florida See a Change This Time?
This is Detert’s third attempt at improving safety on the roads by limiting cell phone-related driving distractions. History has shown that distracted driving bills in Florida have not gotten the support necessary to get them passed, however.
Just last year, Florida Governor Rick Scott vetoed a distracted driving bill that would have required drivers to get educated by the DMV about the dangers of driving while distracted by electronics.
If Florida sees a change this year regarding restrictions placed on texting while driving, it should reduce the number of Sarasota car crashes and Florida accidents statewide.
If you have been injured by a distracted driver, you may have rights to a financial recovery. Find out more about your rights from a Sarasota accident attorney at Mallard Perez. You can reach us at (888) 409-3805 for a free legal consultation, or contact us online through our submission form.