When driving in Escambia County, the chances are very high that you will see something you want to take a picture of or record on video. Beautiful green scenery? Epic lightning storms? An alligator lounging beside a river or canal or even crossing the road? The chances of seeing any of those things are as high in Northwest Florida as they are virtually anywhere else in the world.
It goes without saying that using your phone to take pictures or record video while driving, or, for that matter, to text the pictures to your friends or respond with comments on your friends’ pictures, is one of the most dangerous things you can do behind the wheel. Despite the fact that distracted driving, including using cell phones, increases the risk of an accident so dramatically, Florida’s laws about distracted driving are quite lenient. If you have been injured in an accident involving distracted driving, contact a Pensacola car accident attorney.
Distracted Driving in Florida
According to data published by the Sun-Sentinel, distracted driving accidents affect 50,000 Florida residents each year, and distracted driving was the leading cause of traffic fatalities in 2016. Perhaps contributing to Florida’s reputation as a lawless wilderness where anything goes, it was one of the last states to ban cellphone use while driving.
Until recently, distracted driving was a secondary offense, meaning that police could not pull you over for using a cell phone, but if they pulled you over for another offense (such as speeding, failure to obey road signs, or DUI), they could also make you pay a fine for distracted driving. In 2019, Governor Ron de Santis signed a bill into law that makes distracted driving a primary offense, meaning that police can pull you over just for using a cell phone while driving.
Florida’s distracted driving law is less strict than the laws on the books in some other states. For example, drivers may use their phones when the car is at a complete stop, such as at a red light. In other words, unlike in many other states, you do not have to wait to answer your friend’s text message until you reach your destination; you only have to wait until you get to a red light. Only Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio, and South Dakota do not have laws making cell phone use while driving a primary offense.
A Law for the Cell Phone Era
In drafting the distracted driving law, Florida lawmakers acknowledge that cell phones are a part of life, and that they are present during most car trips. People use cell phones to avoid accidents, such as by using GPS navigation apps that warn of dangerous road conditions in real-time. They also use their phones to call for help after an accident and to take photos of injuries and vehicle damage and to give statements to the insurance company.
Contact the Stevenson Klotz Law Firm
Focusing on the road and not on your phone is the best way to avoid an accident, but Florida traffic laws do not do enough to protect you from other people’s distracted driving. Contact the Stevenson Klotz Law Firm in Pensacola, Florida to discuss your case if you have been injured in a distracted driving accident.
Following graduation from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, Eric Stevenson held a number of positions including Assistant State Attorney in the First Judicial Circuit of Florida. Eric has been practicing with partner Christopher Klotz since 2015 litigating personal injury and car accidents in Alabama and Florida.