How widespread is distracted driving in the state of Florida? Are you and the people you love at risk from a distracted driver? And if you are injured by a distracted driver in this state, can you be compensated? If you travel on our state’s streets and highways – and almost everyone in Florida does – keep reading to learn more about distracted drivers, your risks, and your rights.

According to the results of a survey conducted by EverQuote, a leading auto insurance website, only drivers in Louisiana are more distracted than drivers here in Florida. Why are Florida drivers so distracted? One reason is the state’s cell phone law. On paper, the law in Florida bans texting while driving, with very narrow exceptions related to emergencies.

However, texting while driving is considered only a “secondary” offense in our state, so a police officer cannot stop a motorist for texting alone. There must be a separate, primary traffic infraction like reckless driving or speeding before a motorist can be pulled over and a traffic stop can be conducted. The Tampa Bay Times reports that law enforcement officers in Florida find the texting law is so difficult and cumbersome to enforce that most of them don’t.


Only four states do not make texting while driving a primary traffic infraction, and Florida, since 2013, has been one of those four states. Speaking for EverQuote, Ryan Ruffing said, “Those are shocking numbers proving we have a lot of careless and complacent drivers out there. Traffic fatalities have increased the past two years, and phone use is a primary reason.”

Ruffing, the director of communications for EverQuote, believes it is no coincidence that states like Vermont with strict cell phone laws have less distracted driving. He says, “It seems clear that law enforcement is effective because there is a correlation between the prohibition of phone use and safer driving.”

How dangerous is texting while driving? Studies conducted by AAA suggest that texting or talking on a cell phone increases “cognitive” driver distraction, lowering a driver’s attention to the driving task. If your vehicle is moving at 60 miles per hour, you are traveling the length of a football field in less than 1.5 seconds. Thus, if you take your attention off the road for 1.5 seconds to send a text, the consequences could be catastrophic.


If you are cited for texting while driving in Florida, you can be fined $30 the first time, but no points are added to your driver’s license unless the incident happened in a school zone (two points) or caused a collision (six points). A second texting infraction within five years is a moving violation punishable with three points added to your license and a $60 fine.

In Florida, talking on your cell phone while driving remains legal, but it is always a bad idea, and you’ll be cited if you break a traffic rule or cause a collision because you were talking on the phone. Of course, texting and talking on cell phones are not the only ways that drivers get distracted.

A lot of us in South Florida, for example, like having our pets along with us in the car, but driving with pets is genuinely dangerous, and if the pet distracts you in a way that causes an accident, one or both of you could be seriously injured – or worse. But even drivers who leave the cell phones and pets at home still face a multitude of potential distractions.

Drivers are distracted by grooming, by eating, by kids in the back seat, by the GPS, by the sound system or radio, and even by billboards. In 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that eating while driving increases your chance of an accident by eighty percent. It takes a conscious determination to stay focused on the driving task, and drivers must do everything they can to eliminate their own potential distractions.


If a distracted driver injures you in south Florida, seek medical treatment first, and then consult with an experienced West Palm Beach personal injury attorney who can review the particulars of the case and provide the legal representation and guidance that you’ll need. You have a limited time to take legal action after a vehicle accident in Florida, so contact a personal injury attorney immediately after you’ve obtained medical attention.

Texting while you drive is negligent, and even as a secondary offense, it’s against the law. If you pursue a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent driver, your attorney will probably request the negligent driver’s cell phone records. In some personal injury cases, cell phone records can make the difference, and if a negligent driver was talking or texting when the crash occurred, a victim’s personal injury lawsuit will very likely prevail.

After a traffic collision with a distracted driver, obtain medical attention first, for yourself or anyone else who’s injured, and then call the police. Ask the officers when and how you can obtain a copy of their accident report. Take plenty of photos, and if you can, get the names and contact details for any eyewitnesses. Of course, you’ll need to exchange insurance information with the other driver.


When you are injured by a distracted driver, that driver’s insurance company may try to offer you a quick settlement. Don’t take it, because it will invariably be an amount far less than your injury claim is actually worth. After you’ve been injured, don’t accept any settlement, make any statement, or sign any agreement with an insurance company before you’ve obtained sound legal advice.

Instead, let a West Palm Beach personal injury attorney – an experienced negotiator – talk to the insurance company on your behalf. If you are injured by a distracted driver and you choose to seek compensation by taking legal action, in most cases, Florida’s statute of limitations gives victims four years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. But you can’t wait four years to act.

By that time, witnesses will forget what happened, and any physical evidence will have disappeared or deteriorated. If you are injured by a distracted driver in South Florida, discuss your rights and options with a personal injury attorney immediately after you’ve received medical treatment. It’s your right, and nothing is more important than your health and your future.