Florida “Safe Phone Zone” Campaign Hopes to Curb Distracted Driving

Have you seen the new “Safe Phone Zone” signs along the Florida Turnpike? The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) recently unveiled a new campaign aimed at addressing the problem of distracted driving in Florida. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, distracted driving crashes in Florida have increased 25 percent since 2012. In a partnership with GEICO Insurance, FDOT has designated 64 rest areas, welcome centers, and turnpike services plazas as “Safe Phone Zones” where drivers can answer texts and make phone calls. Signs will be directing drivers to these facilities and serve as a reminder to drivers not to check their phones while driving. The problem of distracted driving has increased nationwide as smartphones and other electronic devices have increased in use.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is a broad term used to describe any activity that has the potential to divert attention away from driving the vehicle. Activities include texting, using a cell phone or smartphone, changing radio stations, reading, adjusting a car’s navigation system, talking to other passengers in the car, or eating and drinking. These activities are distractions that may endanger the safety of other drivers or bystanders as well as your own personal safety and any passengers you may have in your vehicle.

According to the U.S. Government’s official website for distracted driving, 3,154 people were killed in distracted driving-related car crashes in 2014. The number of fatalities decreased 6.7 percent from 2012 to 2013. Although fatalities decreased during this time period, the reported number of people injured in these types of accidents rose from 421,000 to 424,000.

Florida Bans Texting While Driving

In 2013, the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law” (Florida Statute § 316.305) was signed into law. The law sought to improve roadway safety and prevent crashes stemming from texting while driving. It is important to note that texting while driving is a secondary offense in Florida. This means that an officer must have probable cause to pull over a driver for another traffic violation first in order to charge the driver with the secondary offense of texting while driving.

The language of the statute potentially limits its effectiveness. For example, a car that is stationary is not being operated at the time and is therefore not subject to the prohibition. Under a strict interpretation, it could be argued that the ban against texting is not applicable when stopped at a stoplight. Further, the law prohibits only the manual typing of messages through texts, e-mails or instant messaging. It does not apply the distracted driving definition in its entirety as it does not prevent motorists from using a device for navigation purposes or conducting communications that do not require entering messages or reading messages. The law does provide that in the event of a car accident resulting in an injury or death, the user’s billing records for the device are admissible as evidence to determine if the driver was texting while driving.

Call a Personal Injury Attorney Today

While FDOT’s campaign to create Safe Phone Zones serves as a reminder to drivers to take care to operate their vehicles safely and avoid distractions while driving, accidents may still occur. If you or someone you know has suffered an injury in a car accident as the result of a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the Romero Law Firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We are ready to fight on your behalf to help you recover what may be due to you. Don’t hesitate; call 877-ROMERO-1 today.

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