Legislature will try again to improve distracted driving law

As previous posts on this blog have discussed, Florida’s existing laws against distracted driving have some room for improvement. If some lawmakers get their way, this new legislative session may be the time where our state’s leadership can overcome some political hurdles and take action to make the existing laws better.

Right now, our state is among a handful of states that designate texting and driving as what is called a secondary offense. What this means is that, even if an officer sees a Tampa motorist looking at his phone while driving, she cannot initiate a traffic stop until she sees the motorist break another traffic law.

Proposals in the Legislature include measures that would make texting and driving a primary offense, meaning that officers would be able to pull over a motorist solely because the officer suspected texting and driving.

Another measure being considered would take the further step of making our state a hands-free state. Were this measure to pass, it would prohibit drivers from holding phones in their hands while driving. Moreover, they would only be allowed to press one button on their phones to initiate a call and one button to end a call. Any other fingering of the phone would be unlawful.

While the proposals are promising in many respects, there are of course a lot of steps that have to take place before they actually become the law of this state. In the meantime, it is important for victims of car accidents to remember that Florida drivers already have a legal obligation to pay attention to their driving. If they do not do so and cause an accident as a result, they can be held legally accountable.

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