For the past decade, significant research has been conducted as to the dangers of texting while driving. Even with a hands-free cell phone, statistics indicate that talking while driving can increase the chances of an accident by nearly four times. Virginia Tech conducted a study which showed that drivers who are texting while driving are 23 times more prone to an accident than drivers who are not distracted. Because of these grim statistics, 46 states now have laws in place that ban texting while driving. All but five of these states have primary enforcement, meaning that a police officer who spots a driver who is texting can issue a citation for that offense alone.
Click Orland reports that police are issuing a reminder about the new texting and driving law in Florida.
In Florida, texting while driving is currently a secondary offense. This meant that police officers could only issue a ticket for texting while driving when they also witnessed another traffic offense. However, that will change beginning on July 1st, when texting while driving will become a primary offense.
A first offense will result in a fine of $30. A second offense will mean a $60 fine.
News 6 led the campaign to change the law after their anchor, Matt Austin, was injured in a crash while the driver was allegedly texting. On September 9, 2016, Austin was stopped at a traffic light when a driver who police said was texting rear-ended him. The car seat that was in the back seat slammed into Austin’s head, knocking him unconscious.
When Austin went to get the police report, despite the officer telling him that the other driver had been texting, there was no mention of it. This was when Austin learned that officers could only issue a citation for texting when they witnessed the texting along with the breaking of another traffic law.