Florida Texting and Driving Ban Effective October 2013
A ban on texting and driving in Florida has passed and went into effect on October 1st 2013. Manual texting is now banned while operating a vehicle, however drivers stopped at traffic lights are permitted to text. Hands free devices that use voice-to-text are still legal.
Texting is considered a secondary offense, so drivers cannot be pulled over solely for texting. Drivers must be pulled over for another offense, such as speeding.
Florida Texting and Driving Penalty
If you do receive a citation for texting a driving, the first offense will cost $30. A second offense is $60. A second offense within a 5 year period will also result in points on your license. If you cause a serious accident and it is suspected texting and driving was part of the reason, Florida law enforcement can pull your phone records. If it is determined that texting caused the accident it will result in six points on your license.
Florida is a bit late to the game to enact a ban on texting and driving, with only nine other states left in the country that have no sort of law on texting and driving. Washington DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands also have bans on texting and driving.
Is The Florida Texting Ban Too Lenient?
Some are criticizing aspects of the law, however. The ban took nearly five years for Florida lawmakers to pass, and is more lenient than most other states. Senator Maria Sachs (D-Delray Beach) is already proposing a bill that could make the law stricter as soon as next year.
In most other states, texting is a primary violation and there is no loophole for texting at a red light. Those who want a stricter law argue that texting should be reason alone to get pulled over and should not be allowed even at red lights. Distracted drivers who are not aware that the light has turned green can still impede traffic and cause problems on the road.
Damage Caused by Texting and Driving
Texting and Driving Stats:
- A driver going 55 mph who takes his eyes off the road for not even 5 seconds can span an entire football field without looking where is he going.
- In 2012 there were over 4,500 car crashes in Florida caused by cell phone distractions.
- 250 of these accidents were definitively linked directly to texting. The actual number is probably higher, but it can be difficult to prove.
Of course, part of the concern with texting and driving isn't just the mistakes the person texting could make, but also the slowed reaction time to other cars on the road. Even if you think you are fantastic at texting and driving (which would be a dangerous thought to have), should another distracted car pull out in front of you or suddenly stop, your reaction time will be delayed.
Texting and driving has been proven time and time again to be a detrimental distraction for drivers. If you drive in Florida, put the phone away while you drive. The law may not be as harsh in Florida as in other states, but this could change within the next year. Regardless of what the law is, arriving safely at your destination is always more important than answering a text message.
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This article was written by SafeMotorist.com defensive driving staff writers and reviewed for accuracy by defensive driving instructors. All articles are based on current traffic laws and defensive driving practices. This article is intended for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as legal advice or literal interpretation of any specific traffic law.