In 2013, I was working with a Senator from Florida in my district regarding the laws on texting and driving. The good senator is a Republican and while young, he had been in politics for a long time and warned me that to try to pass a law that restricts behavior with a Republican House and Senate would not be easy. I blew him off thinking this law is a necessity and everyone in Florida would agree with me. Boy was I naive.
Within a couple of months, Florida did pass a law on texting and driving, but it had nothing to do with me. I called the Senator and he said “sorry and unfortunately, we cannot revisit this issue for a few years.” Again, the Senator was right because here we are in 2017 and again a push is being made on the texting and driving issue.
Florida Texting and Driving
When the law passed, I guess it was because Florida felt the pressure to finally visit the issue. The law as it stands is a secondary offense, meaning police cannot pull you over unless you have done something else first to merit getting pulled over. The stories are endless while I’m on the road whether in my truck or motorcycle, but I remember once a car kept sliding into my lane and the driver was of course, texting.
I beeped at her a few times, she looked up at me, and ignored me. At that point, there was a Florida Highway Trooper behind me, so I gestured and waved for him to get next to me. Anny was on the back of the bike, so she was making signs to the officer that the driver in front of him was texting. I slowed down, the cop sped up and got in my lane and over the loudspeaker, advised the driver to stop. He then got next to me again and by his expression and reading lips, I can tell he apologized because there was nothing more that he could do.
Florida continues to be one of the few states where texting and driving is a secondary offense. I’ve blogged about this issue extensively and spoken about it in the media both on radio and television, and have made clear that the law should focus on “distracted driving,”not just simply texting. Distracted driving allows an officer to pull you over if you are doing something else that you shouldn’t be while driving. Take for example, applying makeup. That’s just as crazy and dangerous. Without distracted driving, I can read a book at highway speeds and comply with the law as long as I don’t pull out my cell phone and send out a text.
New House and Senate Bill
It’s not the first time that attempts have been made to change the weak Florida law, but hopefully this there is some headway with House Bill 121 and Senate Bill 90.
My Experience as an Attorney
Who knows how many clients I’ve had since 2013 and guess how many came to me with a ticket for texting and driving? Zero! The Palm Beach Post wrote an article on this issue and based on a study, Florida is the second worst state when it comes to driving distracted. Unfortunately, as an attorney practicing bankruptcy and personal injury, I know all too well the results of car accidents. Read one of my first blogs on this issue.
According to the state department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were almost 50,000 crashes involving distracted driving in Florida, in 2016, which is more than five crashes every hour.
I remember reading that in the first year, less than a 1,000 tickets were issued state-wide for texting and driving. That means more tickets are issued in one day in Miami-Dade County on other infractions than the entire state of Florida during a twelve month period.
Feet Per Second
When I teach my advanced motorcycle riding classes, I start with a simple fact: you are traveling approximately 1.5 times in feet per second at the speed you are traveling at. Thus, if you are traveling at fifty miles per hour, add 50 plus half of that which is 25. 50 + 25 = 75. Thus, with every passing second you are traveling 75 feet per second. After three seconds, you have traveled 225 feet. You think it is safe to travel 225 feet without looking where you are going?