Category Archives: Legal Briefing

Senate Bill 52

Florida Governor Rick Scott signs into law a bill to ban texting while driving in Florida.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed Senate Bill 52 which bans manual texting while driving but allows would-be texters to still do so while stopped in traffic or at a traffic light. The fact that Floridians need such a bill is testament to an ever-increasing addiction to our phones. Throughout the Sunshine state and indeed the country, millions gaze into their screens at every opportunity. While increased communication has no doubt brought many closer and increased productivity, one wonders where the need to be constantly updated will end. Surely the latest Facebook posting documenting a new pet or dinner creation can wait until you are off of Highway 98 and safely in your driveway or home.

Driving is a dangerous activity which requires vigilance. Removing your eyes from the road, even for a brief period, increases the danger. It could also impact your wallet. In the field of Personal Injury, a routine inquiry from insurance companies following a reported accident is to question whether the injured driver was on the phone at the time. Phone records are increasingly detailed and can be subpoenaed from either the tortfeasor (the one who caused the accident) or the victim. If the person who caused the accident is found to be talking on the phone or texting at the time of the accident (by referencing the call time versus the accident time), the case is obviously stronger. But if the victim is found to be on the phone at the time of the accident, it could lead to a claim for contributory negligence, and be used to reduce any jury award.

The bottom line is, there is a time and a place for everything. Drivers have enough to do just navigating the roads without being further distracted by their phone.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found an astonishing 69% of U.S. Drivers reported talking on their phones while driving within the previous thirty days. More than two thirds of drivers in traffic are using their phones while driving. The first offense will cost motorists $30 plus court fees and up to $60 for a second offense, the Sentinel reports. These fines however are insignificant when compared to the potential costs for increased insurance rates and hospital bills caused by a momentary distraction to see the latest text message, friend request or posting.