If you could travel back in time to the 1800s with your smartphone in tow, people would likely consider you to be some sort of space-bending wizard. That should come as no surprise, really. After all, smartphones almost seem like something straight out of a science fiction book. You have this little box that provides you with an endless fount of information via signals from giant metal towers that can reach locations all around the world. You can even save snapshots in time that would have otherwise been lost to the ages.
Perhaps that is romanticizing things a bit. But, it’s no wonder that we humans are so obsessed with these swiss-army slates. Many would argue, however, that people are becoming a little too attached to their handheld companions. There may be some credence to this claim, considering that distracted driving is one of the #1 causes for car accidents around the world. People have become so obsessed with their smartphones that some of them will even sacrifice a measure of their safety in order to gain a few extra moments of use. So, it should come as no surprise that many states are now taking harsher measures to punish those who text while driving.
It has taken some time, but fortunately, Florida has just hopped onto the bandwagon as well, introducing a new law effective July 1st, 2019 that punishes offenders more strictly. Florida is already notorious for being one of the most dangerous places in the country in which to drive. Legislatures are hopeful that these measures will produce a steep drop in car accidents across the sunshine state.
Texting & Driving: A New Prohibition
Florida’s new texting while driving law will allow police officers to pull over offending texters. For the longest time, Florida has allowed this dangerous practice to go relatively unpunished. In fact, Florida was already one of the last remaining states to support such lax restrictions. Of course, there were already laws in place that prohibited texting while driving. However, the new law introduces more dire consequences than the last by a significant margin.
For starters, this infraction will now be recognized by the state as a primary offense. For those who are unaware, a primary offense is one that a police officer may arrest the person involved for committing. The offense in question also carries instant fines. Under the new law, offenders will find themselves on the receiving end of fines up to $30 (not including court fees). Additionally, the offense will also result in points added to the person’s license and higher monthly insurance premiums.
Furthermore, the law imposes much more severe restrictions when it comes to traveling through school zones. First of all, drivers will no longer be permitted to talk on their phones while navigating in a school zone unless their cellular communication is conducted via some sort of bluetooth speaker. Additionally, the court may impose more serious consequences on those who violate the new law under these circumstances.
Distracted Driving Statistics
Before we dive into any numbers, it’s important to understand that distracted driving is not limited to cell phone usage while operating a motor vehicle. Examples of other forms of distracted driving behaviors include:
- Eating and drinking food while driving
- Talking to passengers while driving
- Operating the stereo or GPS system while driving
- Simply letting your mind wander while driving
- Anything not aforementioned that diverts your attention from the task of driving safely
However, these forms of behavior (while ill-advised) are not nearly as problematic as texting while driving. According to the NHTSA, a person takes roughly five seconds on average to send or receive texts while operating a motor vehicle. For context, if you’re barreling down the road at 55 mph, that’s akin to driving the length of more than 2 Olympic-sized swimming pools with your eyes closed. Considering these facts, it should come as no surprise that distracted driving is one of the top causes of car accidents in the United States.
In the year 2017, the United States witnessed 3,166 car accident fatalities that were a direct result of distracted driving. Of course, this statistic doesn’t even begin to touch the number of car crashes that didn’t result in wrongful death or injury. Just for a little perspective, in the year 2016, there were more than 50,000 car accidents attributed to distracted driving behaviors in the sunshine state. Naturally, this translates into millions and millions of dollars in damages such as medical expenses, property destruction, and more. Unfortunately, these numbers simply don’t go down on their own. In fact, this explains why we are seeing more restrictions emerge such as Florida’s harsher texting while driving law.
Car Accident Injuries
There’s no denying it: car accidents are likely to end in injury for the occupants of both vehicles. Here are some common examples of bodily harm that car accident victims may experience as a direct result of their accident:
- Soft Tissue Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Spinal Cord Damage
- Loss of a Major Bodily Function
- Bruises & Lacerations
- Bone Fractures
- Wrongful Death
- …and more.
Reviewing this list should give you a general idea of why laws that restrict distracted driving practices are so important. As humans, when we live out our everyday lives, we tend to think in a very moment-to-moment fashion. Doing so is just a natural byproduct of being overwhelmed and in a hurry. We text and drive, because, in all likelihood, we’ll be able to get away with it. It’s difficult for us to consider the possibilities of lives ruined or families torn apart by the simple act of taking our eyes off the road.
When Laws Don’t Help
The new restrictions on distracted driving should lower the number of fatalities and injuries caused by texting while driving. But of course, “lower” is the keyword here. Unfortunately, laws (no matter how punitive) will never completely eradicate such unsafe behaviors. One day, you may be driving down the road when you’re suddenly struck by a distracted driver. The law is only a deterrence. Once you are sitting on the side of the road waiting for emergency responders, there is not much the new restrictions can really do for you.
This is where The Ward Law Group comes in. Your suffering is very real—and there is no way to make it vanish—but it can be diminished. Healing from trauma, of course, takes time and patience. But, you can speed up this process by enlisting an experienced legal team behind you to represent you financially. With nearly a decade of personal injury experience, The Ward Law Group has handled every variation of car accident claim imaginable. Don’t leave your case up to chance. Contact The Ward Law Group today!