A comprehensive guide to Florida laws on cell phone use and texting while driving.
Cell phones reportedly cause over 1 million accidents per year. Talking and texting draw a driver’s focus away from the road and their responsibilities behind the wheel, leading to 26% of all accidents being caused by cell phone use.
It’s certainly not illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving in Florida, but there are some laws in place that prohibit the use of cell phones to protect drivers.
Below, we take a look at the laws Florida has enacted to control cell phone usage while on the road, how those laws are enforced throughout the state, and what you can do to keep yourself safe on the road.
Cell Phone Usage Laws in Florida
As stated above, there is no law that directly prohibits civilian motorists in Florida—even young drivers—from talking on a cell phone. This includes both hand-held devices and hands-free methods of talking on the phone. One exception to this is allowance is commercial truck drivers, who are prohibited from using any mobile device while on the road.
Texting, however, is a different story. Texting while driving was made illegal in the state of Florida in October 2013. The Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law states:
A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data in such a device for the purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging.
Enforcing Cell Phone Laws
Enforcing the “no texting while driving” law is not as straightforward as it sounds. The texting ban is considered a “secondary law” in the state of Florida, which means that police and law enforcement officers cannot issue a ticket for texting alone.
For example, if an officer sees you texting and driving but you aren’t committing any other traffic violation, he or she cannot pull you over and issue a ticket. However, if your texting causes you to run a red light, you can be issued a ticket for the red light, plus a violation for texting while driving. Texting fines for guilty drivers run between $30-$60 in addition to other violations or court costs.
Many believe that texting should no longer be a secondary offense in Florida because it limits the number of tickets that police can issue and the problem of distracted driving continues to be on the rise. There are ongoing efforts to repeal or revise the current Florida texting law, but nothing definite has taken place.
What You Can Do
It’s important that all Florida drivers make safety a top priority while on the road. This means cutting out as many distractions as possible, including texting or talking on the phone. While it isn’t illegal for civilian motorists to take a call, make sure that you can do so safely before picking up the phone. Let it ring and call back if you have to. If possible, invest in a hands-free device to make your cell phone use behind the wheel safer.
If you find yourself injured in a car accident, don’t hesitate to contact the expert team of Tampa auto accident attorneys at Lorenzo & Lorenzo. We have the experience needed to argue your case successfully and help you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation and see how we can help you on the road to recovery.