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Florida distracted driving measure moving forward

To follow up on a previous post from late February, a committee within the Florida Legislature has moved forward with a tougher measure designed to further prevent distracted driving in this state.

The measure under consideration would apply to all forms of distracted driving, and not just texting and driving. Texting and driving is already prohibited in Florida. The new measure would also prohibit behavior like trying to read while driving or even applying another a quick touch-up of makeup.

The measure would allow motorists in this state some leeway to use their cellular phones. For instance, a person would be allowed to use the phone quickly while his vehicle is not in motion. Moreover, Florida motorists would be allowed to use hands-free devices to make conventional calls.

If passed, the proposed law would also give law enforcement officers more power to pull over and ticket people should they notice distracted driving. Currently, texting and driving is a secondary offense in Florida, meaning that police can only write a ticket for it after there has been an accident or some other traffic violation.

To assuage some concerns about the measure, for the first months after it becomes law, should it pass, an officer in Florida will only be able to issue warning notices for an offense, after which she would be able to assess fines. Moreover, police departments will have to prepare a report as to whom they are pulling over for distracted driving in order to show that they are not using the law as a pretext to profile citizens based on race.

Many families of victims whose loved ones died at the hands of a distracted driver came out to testify in support of this bill. While, hopefully, this measure can ultimately do something to reduce the number of pedestrian accidents and other accidents in this state, victims should remember they have options through the civil system as well.

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