Taken from Actualidad:
A Florida law that will penalize people for texting while driving takes effect Monday and drivers who violate it can be stopped by police, punished with fines and receive points on their licenses.
HB 107 was approved by the state Legislature in April and endorsed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis last May.
Now texting, e-mailing and other means by cell phone is considered a primary offense and officers can detain people on suspicion of violating that law.
DeSantis said when he signed it that “it is something appropriate.”
“I think it will make our roads safer,” he added.
Penalties for a first offense are $ 30 plus court costs and fees. A second violation after five years of the first is $ 60 and court costs and fees must also be paid. Additionally, individuals will receive three points on their licenses.
The legal framework also prohibits the use of a cell phone or other electronic device while people are operating a motor vehicle in a school or highway work zone. But this aspect will be in effect from October 1 with a warning period until June 1 when the fines will begin to be imposed.
Hands-free devices are legal.
People can send the text messages when their vehicle is stopped at a traffic light, when using a navigation device or when the car is parked.
More and more drivers are involved in accidents due to distracted driving by using cell phones to talk, text or read them.
People who use a cell phone to report criminal activity or an emergency to the authorities or those who receive emergency traffic messages or weather alerts are exempt from the law.
Another 43 states test texting while driving.
Attorney Jany Martínez-Ward , of The Ward Law Group in Miami, said that “This new law is a step in the right direction, as texting is one of the most dangerous distractions for a driver.”
“Reading a text message can take a driver’s eyes off the road for almost five seconds, which is like driving across a soccer field at 55 mph with your eyes closed. That can cause deaths and injuries, ”said Martinez-Ward, whose firm represents victims of vehicle accidents .
In 2016, Florida had nearly 50,000 traffic accidents caused by distracted driving, according to statistics cited by the attorney.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 9 people die each day and 1,000 are injured due to distracted drivers.
In 2017, 3,166 people died while driving while distracted, representing 8.5 percent of the total deaths for the year.