Texting While Driving in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
As smartphones have become a more important part of society, more and more drivers have begun the dangerous practice of using their phones while driving. While this might include using a phone for navigation or playing music, the most common practice is texting behind the wheel. All can cause significant distraction, which is why new laws have banned texting while driving in Fort Lauderdale and throughout the state.
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), the state reported nearly 50,000 crashes in 2016, resulting in 3,500 severe injuries and 233 fatalities. This staggering number shows why officials in Florida are working to create and modify laws to make drivers more aware of these issues and convince them to stop engaging in this reckless behavior.
If another driver’s use of a phone while driving caused an accident that led to your injuries, you have the right to seek compensation for your medical bills, pain, and suffering through texting while driving a lawsuit. For more information call our Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys.
Understanding Florida’s Smartphone Use Driving Law
In 2019, the State of Florida passed the Wireless Communications While Driving Law, and it went into effect at the beginning of 2020. This allows law enforcement to pull over a vehicle when they see the driver texting, as it is now a primary offense. They no longer have to have another reason to pull the driver over.
This change in the law includes any type of non-verbal communication on a wireless communications device, including texting, instant messaging, and e-mailing.
Types of Distracted Driving in Fort Lauderdale
Whether a driver is physically sending a text or reading a text someone else sent, it still fits into one of the three categories of distracted driving:
- Cognitive: The driver is thinking about other things, such as how to respond to a text message, rather than thinking about operating the motor vehicle safely.
- Manual: The driver takes his or her hands off the wheel to type a text message, which could result in a loss of control of the car.
- Visual: The driver looks at the screen, rather than looking at potential hazards on the roadway. This can make it difficult, if not impossible to stop or avoid a hazard in time.
Time Needed to Stop a Motor Vehicle in Fort Lauderdale
Even with no distractions, it can take a long time to stop a vehicle, depending on the speed being traveled. A driver in a sedan traveling 60 miles per hour can need about 360 feet to come to a stop. Even a driver going 30 miles per hour needs about 123 feet to stop safely.
If the driver is distracted and does not see a hazard, he or she will need far more space to come to a complete stop. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that each time a driver takes his or her eyes off the road to look at a phone, it takes about 5 seconds. In that time, a vehicle can travel almost 360 feet at 60 miles per hour. For more information call our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer.
Common Reasons People Text and Drive in Fort Lauderdale
Although texting and driving are clearly dangerous, some people still do it for a variety of reasons. Most often, this is due to:
- Inexperience. Teen drivers may not realize how dangerous texting and driving is, or they may see their parents doing it and believe it is not as serious as it seems.
- Multitasking. Many drivers may feel the need to multitask while driving, particularly when heading to and from work.
- Overconfidence. Drivers may believe they are skilled enough to text while driving without losing focus on the road.
If you simply must send a text—even in an emergency—it is better to pull into a safe place to do it, rather than while driving.
Helping You With a Texting While Driving Lawsuit in Fort Lauderdale
When a distracted driver hits your car, it is possible that the accident will occur at a high speed. If the driver is sending a text rather than watching the road, he or she may be unable to apply the brakes quickly enough to avoid a full-speed collision with you.
At Law Offices of Wolf & Pravato, we have seen the damage texting while driving can cause others on the roadways. You have the right to seek compensation for your injuries from the insurance company representing the driver who hit you. We may be able to represent you throughout negotiations and in a court case, if necessary.
Contact The Law Offices of Wolf & Pravato
We take pride in treating our clients like family. For a free case review, contact us as soon as possible at (954) 633-8270. We can help you determine whether you have the chance for a successful case.
FAQs about Texting While Driving in Fort Lauderdale
How Dangerous Is Texting While Driving?
Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous driving behaviors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2018, over 2800 people lost their lives to such accidents. Of these collisions:
- 20% of those deaths were non-driving road users, such as pedestrians and bicyclists
- 25% of drivers involved in these fatal collisions were between 20 and 29 years old
- 9% of teenagers who passed away in car crashes were victims of distracted driving
The CDC also noted that 400,000 people suffer non-fatal injuries in distracted driving accidents. These victims can suffer injuries that cause life-altering, sometimes permanent damage.
Is Texting While Driving Illegal?
Yes, texting while driving is illegal in Florida. In 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis outlawed this driving habit via The Wireless Communications While Driving Law, which is codified under Florida Statutes § 316.05. Failure to comply with this law could result in a $30 fine.
This legislation is meant to help:
- Decrease injuries, fatalities, property damage, and other associated costs
- Improve road safety for all road users
- Prevent traffic crashes
However, you are not breaking the law if you’re calling emergency services, using wireless communication that doesn’t call for physically reading text messages, or utilizing a navigation system.
What Happens When You Text and Drive?
When you text and drive, you take your mind and eyes off the road and hands off the wheel. As a result, other road users’ lives, as well as your own, are put at risk.
Driving requires constant alertness and defensiveness. What’s more, road conditions are constantly changing, so you need to be ready to make a move when necessary. You never know when:
- A light will turn red
- Pedestrians will walk across the crosswalk
- Someone will cut you off or drift into your lane
Because you’re distracted, your reaction time may be delayed. Therefore, it could be too late to respond to something by the time it has come to your attention.
In 2020, How Many Deaths From Texting and Driving Happened in Florida?
There aren’t any available statistics that answer this question. However, more broadly, there were 299 fatalities due to distracted driving in Florida in 2020. This number is expected to increase every year.
Yes, The Wireless Communications While Driving Law could help combat this prediction, but it may not be enough. According to the CDC, some ways you can help decrease the number of texting while driving accident deaths include:
- Not multitasking before you go on the road. Check your mirrors, set up your GPS, and send the text before you head out.
- If you’re a passenger and your driver is texting, ask them to put the phone down.
- If you’re a parent, go over the road rules with your young driver and tell them about the consequences that may arise if they fail to comply.
If you really need to text while you’re on the road, pull over to the side of the road or the nearest parking lot.
How Long Are a Driver’s Eyes off the Road When Sending a Text?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reading or sending a text can take your eyes off the road for about five seconds. It goes on to say that when you’re going 55 miles an hour, that’s equivalent to driving the length of a football field—but with your eyes closed.
As mentioned, road conditions can change in an instant. However, five seconds, especially, leaves even more room for a lot to go wrong. That is, resisting the urge to text could make a difference in whether someone gets to go home and see their loved ones again.