When a driver gets pulled over in Orlando, FL, for speeding or some other traffic violation, they may suddenly find themselves receiving a citation for being on their cell phone while behind the wheel. When tickets and fines start piling up, one can quickly find themselves in a financial bind with only a short amount of time to get it paid.
Situations where someone causes an accident while texting on their phone can lead to reckless driving charges and being held liable for any injuries they caused others.
WHAT IS DISTRACTED DRIVING?
Florida law defines distracted driving as any activity that takes your attention off the road while driving. Texting and chatting on your cell phone is high on the list of actions that constitute this offense because of the dangers created. Currently, distracted driving is one of the top contributing factors to motor vehicle accidents in Florida, with over 50,000 such incidents reported in 2016 alone.
There are indeed many kinds of distractions that can take a driver’s attention off the roadway, but very few are as negligent as using a cellphone while driving. But when using a smart device, we become preoccupied on a visual, manual, and cognitive level.
To combat the ever-rising car accidents caused by texting, the state has passed laws restricting the use of these handheld devices when operating a vehicle. These laws include prohibiting texting, conducting internet searches, reading app information, and wearing head or earphones when behind the wheel.
Florida’s Texting and Driving Law
Florida Statute 316.305 makes texting from any wireless device illegal when operating a motor vehicle. So whether you’re using your smartphone, a tablet, iPad, or other electronic devices, if it distracts you from the road in front of you, communicating with it is not permitted until you’re parked.
In addition to texting messages, you cannot email, instant message, or use social media apps to send messages or enter data of any kind while driving. It’s even illegal to enter a new address into your GPS once you’re on the road. Also, Florida law permits you to look at maps and directions on your GPS when driving so long as you had already begun the program before taking off. The good news is if any of your devices support voice texting or playback, you are currently permitted to utilize those services instead.
What If I’m at a Stop Light? Can I Use My Cell Phone While I Wait on a Green Light in Central Florida?
State Statutes 316.305 and 316.306 specifically prohibits texting and reading data when you’re in motion. However, they also explicitly state that when a vehicle is stationary, these prohibitions don’t apply. So, yes, as long as you’re at a complete stop and not interfering with traffic (stopped at a green light), you can quickly check or send a message.
Can I Make a Phone Call While Driving?
While talking on a mobile device isn’t specifically prohibited by state law, it is distracting to have one hand off the wheel to hold your phone near your mouth on speakerphone or by your ear for a private call. In addition, this could risk losing control of your car should you hydroplane or have to make a quick maneuver to avoid a roadway hazard, both of which could cause an accident.
There are specific exceptions outlined in Statute 316.306 that prohibits your talking on a phone or electronic device while driving in certain zones, including:
- Construction areas with workers present
- School zones and crossings
Were You Hurt by a Distracted Driver in Central Florida?
If you or a loved one were struck by a driver who was texting or reading information on their cell phone, Jordan Law is here for you. Florida law clarifies that the use of electronic devices like smartphones and even GPS devices is to be avoided while driving for the sake of safety on the road. By causing an accident in this manner, the other driver was negligent, and you have the right to be compensated for your injuries. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about what rights you have to compensation.