On October 1, 2013, Florida became the 41st state to ban texting while driving, which is distracting enough to be responsible for 18% of fatalities involving a vehicle. Due to the new ban anyone caught texting and driving may have greater financial consequences because they will be charged with 2 moving violations and, as a result, their auto insurance premium may increase.
4 of the 41 states prohibiting texting and driving have a law that makes it a secondary offense, meaning that law enforcement has to also bare witness to a different traffic infarction. A driver pulled over for violating another traffic law and also seen texting on their cell phone, may end up with more than one ticket: the first one for the traffic violation and the second for texting.
Moving violations have varying degrees of severity and each one has a number of points. The lowest amount of points is 3 while the highest is 6 points. The first time a driver is caught texting and driving it counts against them as a nonmoving violation with a $30 penalty, not counting any court fees. If there is a second occurrence of driving and texting within 5 years it is seen as a moving violation and 3 points are put on their driver’s license. (Note: 12 points in 1 year gets a license suspended for 30 days, 24 points in 36 months will get a license suspended for a full year.)
Lynne McChristian, a representative in Florida for I.I.I. (Insurance Information Institute) says that, “Drivers who break traffic laws get ticketed for things like speeding, running red lights and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs—and now texting while driving is also illegal. It’s a cost that is easily controlled by putting the phone down, focusing on driving and following the intent of the law, which is to save lives, prevent crashes and make roads safer.”
On top of prohibiting texting and driving, the new ban puts 6 points on a driver’s license for an accident that is a direct result of using one’s cell phone while driving. In addition, if a driver is inside a school safety zone and is caught in a moving violation, illegal use of their mobile phone will result in 2 points being added to their driver’s license plus any points from the moving violation.
A government website dedicated to distracted driving information and how to avoid it said that drivers that text while driving are at a much greater risk of getting into a car crash. According to McChristian, “Anything that test your mind off driving, even for a few seconds, can certainly have deadly consequences. Thinking ahead about financial consequence may be added incentive for driving to put the phone down and keep both eyes on the road.”
Here are 10 tips to avoid getting distracted while driving
1. Turn the phone off or turn the volume all the way down before getting in your vehicle. You could also place it somewhere, like the glove box, to remove easy access to the device.
2. Use a recorded message saying you are driving and will call them back when you are not driving, or sign up for a service with a feature that will do the same.
3. If you are driving and you need to make a call that can’t wait, safely pull off the road and then make the call.
4. If there are passengers in your car, ask them to please make a call for you or respond to a received text.
5. Please refrain from texting, using the Internet or reading e-mail on your phone while driving. Even using voice-to-text comes with its share of risks.
6. Stay up-to-date with local and state laws before getting behind the wheel. Talking on a cell phone may also be prohibited in your state or a state where you may be vacationing.
7. Should you need to use a GPS device, please provide your destination before you start driving. Or, if you will be using a map or written directions, familiarize yourself with them ahead of time. Unless you have someone with you in the car for help, please pull off the road if you need to check your GPS or map/directions.
8. Pets can be a distraction so make sure they are secured in your vehicle.
9. In the event that you have kids with you and there is a situation you need to address, please pull over first.
10. Trying to do more than just driving while behind the wheel is not safe. Please refrain from drinking, grooming, eating, smoking, reading, and anything else that takes your full attention away from the road.
Whether speaking with a friend, family member or business client, a lot of people may be on the phone for a good portion of the day. With the continued (and growing) use of the phone, that time has spilled over into the time we are behind the wheel of a car. It is not easy to admit it, but no individual can be on the phone and not be dividing their attention between driving and the subject of their conversation. There are so many accidents and fatalities on the road that we ask you to please be as safe as possible while on the road.
At Filer Insurance, Inc., we have been providing Home, Auto and Business Insurance in Miami and South Florida since 1919. We would very much like to have you as one of our customers. Please give us call or come by our office for a free quote on your insurance.
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