Texting While Driving Illegal Now
In an effort to curb the dangerous but common activity of texting behind the wheel, Governor Rick Scott has signed SB 52 into law. Most states already have laws against texting while driving.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that drivers take their eyes off the road for about five seconds while texting. In those precious seconds, a car traveling at 55 mph can cross the equivalent of a football field while the driver is not looking. There were 256,443 reported crashes in Florida in 2012. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, a driver had been texting or otherwise using an electronic communication device in 4,841 of those crashes.
Some important features of the new texting law:
- For a first offense, the fine is $30
- For a second offense, the fine is $60
- The prohibition does not apply if you are at a red light or stopped in traffic.
- It is a secondary offense, which means officers cannot pull you over for texting and driving alone. Officers need to suspect a primary offense in order to justify making a traffic stop.
- Texting-while-driving ban also includes sending email or instant messages.
- New law contains provision allowing police to use driver’s cell phone records against them when texting and driving causes injury or death
- SB 52 becomes effective on October 1, 2013.