Distracted Driving Accidents

After the five-member board of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) unanimously agreed to recommend that all states should ban all driver use of cell phones and other portable electronic devices in December 2011, Florida became the 41st state in the nation to ban texting while driving. Governor Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 52 (SB 52) in 2013. Texting is just one of the many types of behaviors that motorists engage, which can constitute “distracted driving.”

If a driver causes an accident because a cell phone or some other activity while operating a motor vehicle distracted him or her, it may constitute negligence. In such cases, the negligent motorist may be held liable to crash victims for all damages arising from injuries they sustained in the accident.

Attorney for Distracted Driving Accidents in Tampa, FL

If you suffered serious injuries or your loved one was killed by a distracted driver in the greater Tampa Bay area, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Germain Law Group, P.A. represents people injured in automobile accidents all over Manatee County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, Brevard County, Hillsborough County, and many other surrounding areas.

Michael B. Germain is an experienced personal injury lawyer in Tampa who can fight to get you the compensation you are entitled to. You can have our attorney review your case and help you understand all of your legal options when you call (813) 835-8888 to receive a free initial consultation.

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Overview of Distracted Driving Accidents in Hillsborough County

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Florida Distracted Driving Laws

Under Florida Statute § 316.305(3)(a), a person cannot “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 nonvoice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging.”

As it relates to this statute, the phrase “wireless communications device” is defined as “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 or any communications service as defined in Florida Statute § 812.15 and that allows text communications.” 

Florida Statute § 316.305(3)(b) establishes that Florida Statute § 316.305(3)(a) does not apply to a motor vehicle operator who is: 

  • Performing official duties as an operator of an authorized emergency vehicle as defined in Florida Statute § 322.01, a law enforcement or fire service professional, or an emergency medical services professional; 
  • Reporting an emergency or criminal or suspicious activity to law enforcement authorities;
  • Receiving messages that are related to the operation or navigation of the motor vehicle; safety-related information, including emergency, traffic, or weather alerts; data used primarily by the motor vehicle; or radio broadcasts;
  • Using a device or system for navigation purposes;
  • Conducting wireless interpersonal communication that does not require manual entry of multiple letters, numbers, or symbols, except to activate, deactivate, or initiate a feature or function;
  • Conducting wireless interpersonal communication that does not require reading text messages, except to activate, deactivate, or initiate a feature or function; or 
  • Operating an autonomous vehicle in autonomous mode.

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Types of Distractions in Hillsborough County

Florida’s distracted driving law very much focuses on texting while driving because that incredibly common activity is also one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving. The reason that texting while driving is especially dangerous is because it involves all three of the possible types of distractions:

  • Visual — Distractions that take a driver’s eyes off the road;
  • Manual — Distractions that takes a driver’s hands off the wheel; and 
  • Cognitive — Distractions that take a driver’s mind off the task of driving. 

Even distractions that are only visual, manual, or cognitive can lead to devastating crashes. Some of the other kinds of distractions that may lead to collisions include, but are not limited to:

  • Reaching for object on floor; 
  • Eating or drinking;
  • Smoking; 
  • Adjusting audio or climate controls; 
  • Grooming; 
  • Looking at billboards;
  • Tending to child passenger;
  • Using Global Positioning System (GPS) or another navigation system;
  • Reading; 
  • Talking to passengers;
  • Watching in-vehicle entertainment; or 
  • Rummaging through a purse or personal belongings.

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Distracted Driving Resources in Florida

Distracted Driving | FDOT — You can find various information about distracted driving on this section of the FDOT website. Learn more about FDOT’s Put it Down campaign as well as Safe Phone Zones, locations of which Florida has more than any other state. You can also access teen distracted driver data, traffic safety facts relating to distracted driving, and an NHTSA Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving. 

Distracted Driving Awareness | FLHSMV — The FLHSMV is the state agency responsible for issuing driver licenses, motor vehicle titles, and license plates as well as overseeing the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP). Visit this section of the FLHSMV website to access a social media and print media kit relating to FHP’s Focus on Driving campaign. You can find distracted driving data such as crashes or citations by county or agency.

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Find a Distracted Driving Lawyer in Tampa, FL

Did you sustain catastrophic injuries or was your loved one killed in a crash caused by a distracted driver in Florida? Do not say anything to any representative from an insurance company or sign any paperwork without first contacting Germain Law Group, P.A.. 

Tampa personal injury attorney Michael B. Germain fights for individuals in Indian River County, Sarasota County, St. Lucie County, Charlotte County, Hillsborough County, and many other surrounding areas. 

Call (813) 835-8888 or complete an online contact form to have our lawyer provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.

This article was last updated on Thursday, February 15, 2018.