The Florida Highway Patrol is reminding drivers in the Villages and across the Sunshine State to put their phones down and focus on the road.
FHP and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles launched a campaign to alert drivers to the consequences of distracted driving. Namely, the increased risk of a crash, traffic tickets and liability for accidents.
“When you get behind the wheel you only have one job, and that’s to ensure you and your passengers reach your destination safely,” FLHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes said in a statement announcing the initiative.
More than 330 people died in crashes caused by distracted driving in Florida last year, and another 2,700 people were injured, according to FLHSMV. That was the highest number of fatalities tied to texting and other distractions in at least eight years and a 52% jump in those fatalities over the last six years.
More than 1,000 crashes involving distracted drivers happen on Florida roads every week.
Distraction can come in many different ways, but texting and using a cell phone behind the wheel is one of the most common and dangerous ways in which drivers allow their attention to wander. Texting and driving takes motorists’ hands off the wheel, eyes off the road and mental focus away from driving.
“Save your life and the lives of the people around you — put down your phone and focus on the road,” Florida Police Chiefs Association President Stephan Dembinsky said in the announcement. “Distracted driving isn’t just dangerous, it’s illegal.”
Florida’s Distracted Driving Law
A Florida law that went into effect in July 2019 generally bans texting and driving. The law also prohibits the use of any handheld device - whether it is texting or calling - in school and work zones. Violations are treated as non-criminal traffic infractions.
In addition, Florida drivers are generally required to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner. A driver who causes an accident while violating the distracted driving laws is likely to be deemed negligent and responsible for any injuries that happen as a result. That includes being on the hook for vehicle damage, medical bills and other financial consequences of the collision.
In the tragic event that a person is killed in an accident caused by a distracted driver, his or her family has the right to seek similar compensation for wrongful death.
Speak with a Villages Auto Crash Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, Villages auto crash lawyer Tim Babiarz can help. Tim has been fighting for people injured in a wide range of collisions for more than two decades.
Our office is conveniently located in the Villages. We are also proud to represent clients throughout the area, including in Ocala, Leesburg, Lady Lake, Wildwood, Summerfield and beyond. Call (352) 205-7559 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with a Villages auto crash lawyer.