Florida has over 14 million licensed drivers. In addition to these 14 million, there is a significant number of tourists who visit Florida every year. Drivers learning to drive with a permit, but no license, do not count toward that 14 million. With that many drivers on the road, it is natural for accidents to occur. Unfortunately, many of these accidents are a result of distracted driving and could be completely avoidable. In this article, we will discuss Florida distracted driving law and how it may impact you.
Distracted Driving: What Is That?
According to the Florida Department of Highway and Safety Motors Vehicles (FLHSMV), distracted driving is anything that causes a driver to take their hands off the wheel, eyes off the road, and/or mind off of driving. There are three different kinds of distractions:
- Visual Distraction
- Manual Distraction
- Cognitive Distraction
What Is A Visual Distraction?
Visual distraction is any distraction that causes a driver to take their eyes off the road for any reason. Some examples of visual distractions are:
- Looking at a cellphone to text message, dial a phone number or checking other apps.
- Rubbernecking a.k.a. looking at a traffic accident, pulled over vehicle, or people.
- Looking at the scenery or reading billboards.
- Operating a GPS or radio, or operating the temperature controls
What Is A Manual Distraction?
Manual distraction is any distraction that causes a driver to take both hands off the steering wheel for any reason. Some manual distractions are also visual distractions. Some examples of manual distractions are:
- Responding to a text message.
- Manipulating the radio or air conditioning.
- Eating or drinking while driving.
- Applying makeup or fixing your hair.
What Is A Cognitive Distraction?
Cognitive distraction is any distraction that causes a driver to take their mind off of driving for whatever reason. For example:
- Driving while contending with strong emotions.
- Talking with other passengers in the car.
- Daydreaming or spacing out.
Does Florida Enforce Distracted Driving Laws?
At the present time, Florida prohibits reading, writing, or sending text messages while driving. It also prohibits the use of hand-held cell phones in active school zones and work zones. Getting caught doing this could result in a traffic ticket and fine. However, drivers are permitted to send and receive text messages when the vehicle is stopped at a red light, or in traffic. In addition, if you are using your phone to report an emergency, it is not against the law to do so while driving. It also does not apply to utilizing GPS or other navigational systems, or texting using voice to tax transferee technology. Or, if you are a current Tesla owner, these laws do not apply when operating the vehicle in its autonomous mode.
What Should I Do If I Was Hit By a Distracted Driver?
The most important thing anyone should do when they are involved in an accident is to call emergency personnel to render aid. However, follow these other procedures to protect yourself:
- Exchange insurance information (if police are present, they will also do this in the incident report).
- Take pictures of the accident, including damages to the vehicles, road debris, and tire marks. Take duplicate photos of everything. You are going to be excited, and not all your photos will be clear. Check them to ensure that you have clear copies of everything you’re trying to take photo of.
- Do not talk about the accident to the other party. On the other hand, if the other party admits guilt by apologizing, document it.
- Get evaluated by a physician.
Whenever you are involved in any type of accident, you should consult with an attorney. Personal injury law is very complex and navigating the various insurance companies to ensure you are being fully compensated is a laborious task that requires expertise. The Attorney Kim Wells at Valrico Law Group as over 34 years of experience in assisting clients with personal injury cases. Contact us for a consultation.