Florida, much like the rest of the U.S., has not been immune to the increasing public safety threat of distracted driving. Fatal car accidents occur every day as a result of drivers whose attention was diverted from the road by navigation or entertainment systems, and the ubiquitous smart phone. What solutions will remove this avoidable hazard from the roads of Florida? Many solutions are in various stages of development and implementation.
Government Regulations: The Florida Statutes prevent distracted driving with the following provisions:
"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 on such a device for the purpose of non-voice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging. As used in this section, the term 'wireless communications device' means any handheld device used or capable of being used in a handheld manner, that is designed or intended to receive or transmit text or character-based messages, access or store data, or connect to the Internet." (Florida Statutes §316.305(3)(a).)
While this ban was originally targeted to prevent texting—the section is even called “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law”—the language of the statute was made broad enough to apply to online activities on a smart phone as well.
Safety Features and Settings: Business Insider reports that Apple will release an expansive “Do Not Disturb While Driving” function for the iPhone with the iOS 11 operating system (due for release in late 2017). This comes after multiple wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against the tech giant. In general, these lawsuits allege that Apple is aware of the risks of distracted driving, but has not taken measures to make their product safer—despite having the technology to do so. The Guardian reports that, while legal experts do not believe such lawsuits will prevail against Apple, they are nonetheless problematic for the company, because they prove that Apple holds patents for Do Not Disturb technologies. This demonstrates that Apple has long known that phone use while driving is dangerous.
Public Awareness: The National Safety Council and similar public safety agencies have made distracted driving a priority in recent years. Public safety campaigns and initiatives target the most direct solution to the problem: stop drivers from allowing themselves to become distracted from the road. While laws and technology can make it more difficult—and reduce the incentive—for drivers to use devices in their vehicles, only changes in personal behavior will actually stop the problem from occurring.
If you have suffered damages in a distracted driving accident in Florida, we will help you explore your legal options for recovering medical bills, lost wages, property damage and more. Bear in mind that sometimes, it may not be obvious that the other driver was distracted. It may require a bit of digging to uncover the truth. Our law firm can help.