Though the use of a cell phone to call or text is perfectly legal in the state of Florida, many drivers are finding that this practice does not come without consequences. According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, when drivers are involved in accidents law enforcement officers are increasingly searching the phone records of the drivers to see if phone use could have been a factor in the crash. Instead of receiving a traffic ticket for causing an accident that results in a death, drivers found to have been using their phones at the time of the accident can often be charged with vehicular homicide instead. In addition to facing jail time for criminal offenses like vehicular homicide, cell phone use that causes accidents can be used against a driver in a civil trial as well.
Bills to ban the use of cell phones and texting while driving have repeatedly failed in the Florida state legislature. Many have claimed that these repeated failures have been due to a push by big telecom companies to fight limits to texting, which is extremely profitable. Despite this, the dangers have pushed the Florida Highway Patrol to order its troopers to stop using handheld cell phones while driving, unless they are using a hands-free device. Along the same vein, the city of Parkland in Broward County progressively enacted its own city-wide ban on text messaging while driving in 2009. There is legislation to ban wireless device usage seemingly always on the table in the Florida legislature, so there is hope that it will soon be passed.
According to the University of Utah, cell phone use while driving presents a distraction that extends a driver’s reaction time as much as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at around .08%, which is at the legal limit for drivers over 21. According to Virginia Tech, the number one source of driver inattention is use of a wireless device.
Additionally, driving while distracted is a factor in 25 percent of reported accidents. Earlier this year, State Farm Insurance announced research results that showed that around 19% of drivers surveyed accessed the Internet on a smart phone while driving.
Though cell phone use while driving is still legal in the state of Florida, it presents a seriously inflated risk to the individual and other drivers on the road. If you need to use a wireless device while driving, follow the guidelines provided by the Florida Highway Patrol. If you or a loved one has been involved in an automobile accident, especially one where the other driver could have been using a cell phone or was otherwise negligent, you may be entitled to compensation.
A dedicated automobile accident attorney will analyze your case for free to determine whether you are eligible to pursue legal recourse and monetary remuneration for your losses. Contact us today for a free, no-risk case evaluation. Our attorneys can handle any auto accidents, including those caused by issues like drowsy driving.