The Miami city commission has approved a law making it illegal to drive in school zones while sending text messages, NBC Miami reported Sept. 11. The station said the council introduced and approved the measure Sept. 10 during a meeting that was mainly about the budget. The Miami Herald said the measure was introduced by Commission Chair Joe Sanchez, who said he was inspired after seeing a near-miss firsthand. While dropping his child off at school, Sanchez said he saw another parent nearly hit a student because the parent was distracted by texting. NBC did not report any details about the enforcement or penalties allowed by the law.
As a Pembroke Pines auto accident attorney, I am pleased to see that city governments are taking this problem seriously, even if our state government does not. As the article notes, a statewide ban on texting and driving has been introduced several times in the Florida Legislature, but has never passed. The most recent version, co-sponsored by Rep. Frederica Wilson of Miami, would have been called “Heather’s Law” after a young woman who was killed in an accident on her way to meet a wedding planner. Her car was hit by a truck driver who was so distracted by text messaging that he never had time to brake. Also not passed during that session was a bill that echoes the Miami ordinance — it would have outlawed talking on cell phones while driving in a school zone.
Despite the reticence of the Florida Legislature, momentum is growing nationwide for a ban on texting while driving. In fact, four Senators have introduced federal legislation that would deny states access to federal highway funds unless they make laws banning texting while driving. As a Plantation car crash lawyer, I happen to know that similar top-down federal legislation is responsible for several other driving-related rules that are now uniform across the U.S., including the legal age for drinking, speed limit laws and the 0.08% legal limit for blood-alcohol content. The federal texting and driving legislation came on the heels of research by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showing that texting while driving increased the chances of an accident by 23 times, at least for the drivers in that study, and took their eyes off the road for an average of five seconds at a time.
At Cohn, Smith & Cohn, our attorneys keep track of accident statistics and studies because we work every day with victims of serious accidents. Our clients are people who were seriously injured, sometimes permanently, or lost a loved one because of someone else’s bad driving decisions. That includes all types of driver distractions, including sending and receiving text messages. Our Boca Raton car wreck lawyers can’t reverse the terrible effects of a serious accident, unfortunately, but we can help victims recover the money they need to alleviate the effects of the accident. In a lawsuit, victims can claim compensation for all of the costs the accident caused, including sky-high medical bills, funeral costs and lost income, as well as compensation for their physical pain, emotional anguish and any wrongful death or permanent disability.
If you or someone you love was hit by a careless driver — on the phone or not — and you’d like to learn more about your legal options, you should contact Cohn, Smith & Cohn for help. To set up a consultation with absolutely no cost or obligation to you, please call our main Broward County office at (954) 431-8100 or contact us online.